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Delta variant threatens to ruin summer, says France's health minister

The latest figures show that around 25% of new Covid cases involve the variant, but with the average number of daily cases below 2,000, the presence of Delta remains limited

France's Health Minister Olivier Véran

France's Health Minister Olivier Véran Pic: Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock

The threat of the Delta variant of Covid-19 is real and could come along and ruin our summer holidays, France’s Health Minister Olivier Véran has said.

“I sometimes read that there could be a risk of [another] wave linked to this contagious variant at the beginning of the school year in September or October, but I'm not entirely sure that we have time to wait until September or October,” he said yesterday (July 2) while on a visit to a vaccination centre in Hauts-de-Seine.

“There is a potential threat of an epidemic resumption as early as this summer,” he said.

Around 25.8% of new cases involve the Delta variant of Covid-19 in France, Santé Publique France’s latest figures show.

Between June 22 and 28, 16,929 Covid tests were carried out in France and 48% of those were screened for signs of the mutation that causes the Delta variant. Just under 2,100 were found with the mutation - L452R, some 25.8% of the tests that were screened.

The presence of the Delta variant varies by region in France, with Nouvelle-Aquitaine the most affected, followed by Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. 

France has recorded an average of 1,838 new Covid-19 cases per day in the past week, a drop of 9% from the week before. 

The number of hospitalisations, admittances to intensive care units and deaths due to Covid-19 have all fallen in the past week in France. 

“Today, there is no epidemic resurgence in our country, but the incidence rate, i.e. the circulation of the virus, has stopped decreasing,” Mr Véran said.

The incidence rate is calculated by the number of people who test positive for Covid-19 per 100,000 people. 

The national average incidence rate is 19. France’s alert level is anything over 50. 

Mr Véran said that the best defence against the Delta variant is the Covid-19 vaccinations.

“In the face of the rising threat of the Delta variant, our best weapon is vaccination, which reduces the risk of severe forms by a factor of 20. A vaccinated country is a country that is no longer confined,” he tweeted.

He said that the government was considering making the Covid-19 vaccine obligatory for certain health and care professionals. 

He said not enough of them were currently vaccinated and if that rate did not rise, “we may need to implement compulsory vaccination”. 

He added that “we will not force [other] people in France to be vaccinated, we are doing everything to make the vaccine available”. 

MPs to debate obligatory Covid vaccination in France - but for whom?

Mr Véran also mentioned the possibility of extending the use of France’s health pass, an idea that Prime Minister Jean Castex has also raised.

Currently, the health pass - which is proof of vaccination, proof of having tested negative for Covid-19 in the past 48 hours, or proof of immunity to Covid-19 due to previously having been infected - is required to enter events of over 1,000 people. 

There are as yet no further details on what widening the usage of the pass would involve. 

Elsewhere, government spokesman Gabriel Attal has said that extra Covid-19 vaccine doses would be sent to tourist areas in France.

Read more:

Covid France: GPs expected to get lists of unvaccinated patients

15 FAQs on EU’s Covid Digital Certificate and France summer travel

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