The number of daily Covid-19 cases in France will exceed 100,000 by the end of December due to the more rapidly spreading Omicron variant, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Wednesday.
“This is what the models are showing,” he told BFM-TV in an interview, also announcing that France would open vaccinations for the first time to five to 11-year-olds from Wednesday.
France registered nearly 73,000 new infections on Tuesday, with an average of more than 54,000 over the past seven days. But officials fear that Omicron’s rise has changed the nature of the pandemic.
Veran said Omicron cases accounted for 20 percent of new infections in France, but up to 35 percent in the Paris region.
He said the variant was expected to account for the majority of new cases between Christmas and New Years.
“There is one certainty. Omicron is very contagious, it will spread and no country will be spared,” said Veran, stressing that vaccines did have an effect on the variant.
President Emmanuel Macron is closely monitoring the spread of Omicron, with his handling of the pandemic set to be a crucial issue in the 2022 presidential election.
Unlike some European neighbors such as the Netherlands, France did not impose strict restrictions before Christmas to slow its spread.
But the country has one of the strictest health pass systems in Europe, with proof of full vaccination, rehabilitation or a recent test required to enter hospitality and cultural establishments.
The government is now enacting legislation to further tighten this up to convert the health pass into a vaccine pass, meaning it is only valid with full vaccination and not through testing or recovery.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)