Paris: The French government is considering introducing stricter coronavirus restrictions in the coming days to stem an alarming rise in confirmed cases of the new Covid-19 variants, Health Minister Olivier Veran said.
At a press briefing here on Thursday, Veran noted that the sanitary situation was deteriorating as “the virus variants are actively circulating in France” despite the government’s efforts to contain the spreading, reports Xinhua news agency.
“The fact that the variants are still spreading suggests that the curfew and all the measures are certainly useful but probably insufficient,” he said.
On January 16, a night-time ban on people’s movement, in force since December 2020, was brought forward by two hours to 6 p.m. across France in an effort to reduce social mixing and halt a surge in Covid-19 infections.
But “the virus is spreading faster”, with daily infections increasing by 10 per cent per week and reaching an average of 20,000 compared with 18,000 last month, according to the Minister.
He added that 2,000 cases of the new virus variants were detected per day, up from 500 earlier this month, increasing pressure on hospitals, where about 60 per cent of the intensive care beds have been occupied by coronavirus patients.
“We consider these new variants as new viruses,” Veran said.
“What we want to avoid is an epidemic within the epidemic, which is not yet visible in France but which everything leads us to believe will be a reality very quickly and very strongly if we do nothing.
“The objective of this press conference is to provide transparency with current data… to understand the decisions that will have to be taken in the coming days,” he told reporters without elaborating.
As of Friday morning, France has registered a total of 3,166,145 coronavirus cases since the onset of the pandemic early last year, while the death toll stood at 74,601.