France warns a third national lockdown is possible if Covid cases keep rising – as nation launches its vaccination campaign amid fears of a post-Christmas spike
- Health Minister Olivier Veran said he ‘will never exclude’ measures necessary to protect the public
- His comments came on Sunday as France launched its vaccination campaign
- France reported just 3,093 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours
- Despite the sharp decrease from daily case numbers in the 20,000s seen earlier this week, the seven-day average remains high
Health Minister Olivier Veran made the comments on Sunday as France launched its vaccination campaign amid fears of a possible post-Christmas spike.
‘We will never exclude measures that are necessary to protect the public,’ he told the Journal du Dimanche.
‘That is not to say we have made a decision, but that we are watching the situation hour by hour.’
France has been registering around 15,000 new infections per day, and on Friday confirmed the first case of a new coronavirus variant that recently emerged in Britain in a man who had travelled from London.
Sweden and Spain have also confirmed cases of the new variant, which experts fear is more contagious. It prompted more than 50 countries to impose travel restrictions on the UK.
France’s health minister has said a third lockdown is possible in the country if coronavirus cases continue to rise
On Sunday, France began administering the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to vulnerable residents in the greater Paris area and the Burgundy-Franche-Comte region. Pictured: Mauricette,78, received a dose of the vaccine on Sunday
Staff at the Rene-Muret hospital in Sevran on the outskirts of Paris applaud after Mauricette, a 78-year-old French woman, received the vaccine
Following a snap 48-hour ban on UK arrivals this week, France has reopened its borders – partly to allow French citizens to return home but also to relieve the massive build-up of freight goods.
On Sunday, France began administering the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to vulnerable residents in the greater Paris area and the Burgundy-Franche-Comte region.
France received the drug a day earlier having approved it for use on Thursday.
‘We have 19,500 doses in total, which amounts to 3,900 vials. These doses will be stored in our freezer at minus 80 degrees (Celsius) and will be then distributed to different nursing homes and hospitals,’ said Franck Huet, head of pharmaceutical products for the Paris public hospital system.
The French government is hoping to get around 1 million people vaccinated in nursing homes during January and February, and then a further 14 million-15 million in the wider population between March and June.
France reported just 3,093 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours on Saturday, sharply down from the more than 20,000 cases on each of the previous two days, figures not seen since November 20
A further 146 people died in France from the coronavirus on Sunday. The country’s death toll stands at 62,573 – the seventh highest in the world
France reported just 3,093 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours on Saturday, sharply down from the more than 20,000 cases on each of the previous two days, figures not seen since November 20.
But the seven-day moving average of daily new cases, which evens out reporting irregularities, is at around a one-month high.
France has a total of 2,550,864 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the fifth-highest tally in the world, while its COVID-19 death toll stands at 62,573, the seventh-highest.