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Omicron now dominant variant in France but hospitalisations ‘stable’

The national infection rate now exceeds 1,049 cases per 100,000 people, but case numbers are lower among older age groups

Omicron is now the dominant variant in France, with over 60% of cases believed to belong to this new variant Pic: Arif biswas / Shutterstock

Omicron is now thought to be the dominant Covid variant in France, with 62.4% of positive cases reflecting characteristics compatible with those of the new variant. 

This is according to the latest Covid report by Santé publique France, which was published yesterday (December 30). 

The public health body noted that “the circulation of SARS-CoV-2 accelerated rapidly (+50%)” in the past week, with the 20 to 29-year-old age group experiencing the highest infection rates (1,770 per 100,000 people).

In Ile-de-France the infection rate now exceeds 1,500 cases per 100,000 people, while nationally it sits at 1,049.5 per 100,000.   

France’s R rate (the average number of secondary infections produced by a single infected person) is currently 1.22, having increased from 1.09 last week, and the positivity rate of tests taken is 10.8%.

Between Wednesday and Thursday (December 29-30), 206,243 new Covid cases were reported in France, one day after over 208,000 daily infections were recorded, a figure which broke the 180,000 case record set the previous day.

As well as the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, the surge in recorded Covid cases will also be due in part to a sharp rise in the number of people getting tested. 

On December 27, the testing rate was 9,036 per 100,000 people, up from around 2,500 per 100,000 in early November. There are currently more people than ever before taking Covid tests in France: even during the peak of the fourth wave over the summer the testing rate did not exceed 7,200 per 100,000. 

How are hospital figures looking?

In the past week there were 7,621 Covid-related hospitalisations and 1,719 intensive care admissions. These numbers are nearly identical to those seen last week, when 1,719 intensive care admissions were also recorded, along with 7,602 hospitalisations. 

The number of people who died with Covid increased by 8% in the past week, totalling 1,143. During the second wave in winter 2020, weekly deaths totalled approximately 2,000.

There were 3,429 people being treated for serious forms of Covid in intensive care units by December 28. 

Santé publique noted that the number of hospitalisations had increased in Ile-de-France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, Corsica and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in the past week, but remained “stable or in decline” in the rest of France.

Who is most heavily affected by Omicron? 

As seen above, the age group in which Covid infections are currently the most prevalent is 20-29; infection rates decline among older people, sitting around 200 cases per 100,000 people among 80 to 89-year-olds.

Vaccination status data also suggests that infections are three times more common among unvaccinated people, Franceinfo reports. 

However, these figures could be skewed by the fact that some vaccinated people are not as quick to get tested, as they believe that they are completely protected from catching the virus by the vaccine. 

As of December 28, 78.7% of France’s total population had received at least one vaccine dose, while 43.7% of adults had also had a booster. 

Related articles

Covid boosters, vaccine passes: What changes in France on January 15?

Covid: Face masks obligatory in streets of Paris from December 31

10% of people in France are Covid contact cases, says health minister

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