France Slams New Covid-19 Measures Amid Virus Spread

Published December 28th, 2021 - 09:33 GMT
France takes new Covid-19 measures
France's Prime Minister Jean Castex (L) and France's Health Minister Olivier Veran (R) appear on a screen as they give a press conference on the current situation amid the Covid-19 pandemic and new measures to curb the spread of Omicron variant at the Hotel de Matignon in Paris, on December 27 2021. (Photo by STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN / AFP)
Highlights
France has made working from home mandatory for at least three days a week

France announced a raft of new Covid-19 measures today as the country braces for a surge in cases due to the rapidly spreading Omicron variant in Europe.

Working from home is now mandatory for at least three days a week while indoor events have limits on attendance and people are banned from eating on long-distance trains.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said in response to a rapid spread of Omicron, the government is narrowing the delay for a third booster shot to three months from four, but there will be no curfew for New Year's Eve.

He added that from Monday and for the next three weeks, all public gatherings will be limited to 2,000 people for indoor events, and to 5,000 people for outdoor events. 

Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, said a ban on food and drinks on long-distance trains was probably an attempt to ensure people wear masks as much as possible.

Prof Hunter told MailOnline: 'If people wear face coverings it will reduce the rate of transmission by about 20 per cent.'

However, he said whether the food and drinks ban will make a big impact was 'uncertain' 

French officials warned hospitals risk being overwhelmed again after a record 100,000 cases were reported on Saturday, the highest daily level in France since the pandemic began nearly two years ago.

Health experts estimated the number of daily cases could increase rapidly by mid-January, even though millions of people received booster shots in recent weeks.

Nearly 3,300 people are currently in intensive care, again above the crisis threshold of 3,000 set by authorities for handling the worst cases.

Around 22 million people out of an eligible 40 million in France have received Covid booster shots.

President Macron held a crisis meeting at 3pm via videoconference from his Mediterranean holiday retreat at Bregancon, in the south of Grace, with key members of his cabinet and representatives of French public health bodies. 

Officials urged people not to hold parties or large family gatherings over the holidays. 

It comes as other European countries saw record coronavirus cases.

Denmark and Iceland reported record daily coronavirus cases on Monday.

Both Nordic nations had some of Europe's lowest infection rates before Omicron's arrival.

Europe recorded the most Covid cases and deaths in the past seven days.

It comes as other European countries saw record coronavirus cases.

Denmark and Iceland reported record daily coronavirus cases on Monday.


Both Nordic nations had some of Europe's lowest infection rates before Omicron's arrival.

Europe recorded the most Covid cases and deaths in the past seven days.

Early studies suggested Omicron causes less severe disease than previous strains such as the Delta variant that was first identified in India.

Denmark closed cultural attractions and limited opening hours in bars and restaurants in mid-December to fight the latest wave of infections as Omicron became the dominant strain.

Meanwhile Iceland registered a record 672 cases in the past 24 hours, despite never having reported more than 200 daily cases until mid-December.

During last year's autumn wave, daily infection totals in Iceland never exceeded 100.

In neighbouring Norway, Omicron has become the dominant variant in the capital Oslo.

Health officials in Ireland were also expecting large Covid case numbers reported over the coming days.

Testing centres across the country fully reopened after some were closed or scaled back over the Christmas period.

The Irish HSE fully reopened vaccination centres as 6,735 Covid cases were reported on Monday.

Latest figures show 461 Covid patients are in hospital, with 91 in intensive care.

The overall positivity rate was nearly 50 per cent

Health officials believed 87 per cent of reported cases in Ireland are now due to Omicron.

The Department of Health tweeted that it was anticipating 'large volumes of case numbers over the coming period'.

Earlier HSE chief executive Paul Reid tweeted: 'Well done to all of our vaccination teams. Back at it.

'It's never too late to receive your first dose vaccine. Please take the earliest opportunity to receive your booster.'

Ireland already has a range of restrictions in place amid concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant.

All restaurants, bars and cafes have had to shut their doors at 8pm, while indoor events have a limited attendance of 50 per cent capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is lower.

Outdoor events are also limited to half capacity with a maximum of 5,000 people.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

 


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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