Pandemic situation particularly fragile: French PM

A doctor, wearing a protective mask and a protective suit, works in a pulmonology unit at the hospital in Vannes where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are treated, France

The Covid-19 pandemic situation in France is “particularly fragile” due to the more infectious variants of the virus, but there was no need to impose a new nationwide lockdown at the moment, Prime Minister Jean Castex said.

With daily averages of 20,000 new infection cases, 1,600 hospital admissions and 320 deaths, “the situation remains worrying”, Castex warned at a weekly press briefing on Wednesday.

However, he said “for the moment, there is no necessity to lock down”, arguing that “the level of incidence is certainly high, but it is still much lower than it was last October” when the country entered a second confinement, reports Xinhua news agency.

“A new lockdown can only be considered as a very last resort. Currently, the situation does not justify such a move,” Castex told reporters at the briefing.

“The objective is not to delay (the confinement) but to do everything possible to avoid it. We must hold on, act together,” he said.

The Prime Minister also said that the percentage of infections by the new variants among new cases has increased from 3.3 per cent on January 8 to 14 per cent on Thursday.

France has also confirmed four cases of the coronavirus strain first detected in Brazil, Health Minister Olivier Veran said at the same press briefing.

“Our objective is clear: we want to limit the spread of these variants as much as possible,” said Veran, noting that the country was “in a race against time” against more infectious variants.

By next week, all residents in nursing homes who want to be vaccinated will have received their first jab, while up to 4 million people would receive the first dose later this month, according to Castex.

Sticking to a three-to-four-week gap between the two injections, France aims to vaccinate all the citizens aged over 65 by the end of May and all adults before September, he added.

One of the hardest hit countries in Europe, France has so far registered a total of 3,310,496 coronavirus cases and 77,743 deaths.

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