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Macron expected to give TV speech to France as Covid worsens in Europe

President would detail plans for managing the epidemic including making a third booster dose mandatory for the most vulnerable members of the population

A man wearing a thick coat and a face mask outdoors in snow

Covid cases are expected to rise and the situation to worsen as the winter approaches Pic: Afanasiev Andrii / Shutterstock

President Emmanuel Macron is expected to address the nation soon to lay out plans for managing the Covid epidemic over the winter months as the health situation worsens in France and Europe. 

The announcement could include measures such as making a third vaccination mandatory for the most fragile in society, a government source told RTL

It comes as the World Health Organisation has registered alarm at the progression of the virus in Europe, with cases soaring in the UK and Germany, and rising in France.

A member of government health advisory body le Conseil scientifique warned that hospitalisations may begin to rise again in France from mid-November.

Europe is currently recording more than 3,600 deaths per day on average.

The latest figures show that there were 9,502 new cases in France and 47 new deaths in the past 24 hours.

Read more: Coronavirus: Daily updates on the situation in France 

Read more: Map: in which French departments are Covid cases rising?

Read more: Covid: As daily cases reach 10,000, can France avoid a fifth wave?

A minister said: “Emmanuel Macron is very worried about the health situation in Europe” and is set to address the population as a result very soon.

Some measures have already been reintroduced in France, including masks and some social distancing to be required in primary schools from Monday, November 8.

Read more: Masks to be required again in primary schools in 39 French departments 

Yet, France has not yet reached a consensus on whether to vaccinate children under the age of 12, in contrast to the US, where this age group has already started receiving the jab.

Booster jab campaign

The booster jab campaign is continuing in France, with numbers high among people aged 65 and over, but less encouraging among those with other underlying conditions, reported Le Monde.

As of November 1, three million people had received a booster dose, which is not yet even half (43%) of the eligible population – namely, people aged 65 and over and living at home. Among elderly care home residents, 74% have had a booster. Yet, only 19% of those with underlying conditions have done so.

This discrepancy is “hard to explain”, said Jacques Battestoni, president of the MG France union. He said: “Younger patients with underlying conditions seem to have, [wrongly], less awareness of the danger.”

Authorities are reportedly considering whether, or when, to roll out the third vaccination campaign to a wider proportion of the population. 

Currently, the criteria for a third jab include being aged 65 or over, with an underlying condition, and having had your second vaccine dose at least six months ago.

Professor Alain Fischer, head of the government’s vaccine strategy, said: “At the moment, we are clearly falling short of our final objective. To ensure optimal protection of vulnerable people, we need to reach a booster coverage in the order of 90%, perhaps even more.”

He said that it is difficult to explain to people why, when they have already had two doses, they may also need a third.

New phone number for over-80s

Authorities have launched a new phone number and campaign designed to help people aged 80 and over to get fully vaccinated. 

Almost 15% of people aged 80 and over in the department have not yet had both vaccination doses. 

Now, the operation “Vaccinons nos aînés (Let’s vaccinate our elderly)” has launched, with a free number that the elderly can call for easy access to vaccination, whether their first, second, or booster.

The vaccinations can either happen at home, for which the operator will organise a day, time, and place for a qualified person to visit; or at a health clinic, for which the operator will arrange a time and will also, if necessary, organise transport to and from the venue.

The number to call is 0 800 730 957.

Related stories

Will France follow the US and roll out Covid vaccine to under-12s?

More French primary schools to end mask rule (but it is back for some)

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