France has seen the Kent variant of coronavirus become one of the most prevalent strains of Covid in the past few weeks, with the mutation reported to be behind 20 to 25 percent of new infections. Despite the “worrying evolution” the disease has gone through, Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly rejected suggestions to put France under a third national lockdown. According to an Elisée insider, President Macron believed “there is a path” to ensure the country can escape another general shut down despite the growing impact of foreign strains on new cases.
Speaking to Politico, the source said “there are still two bad news” threatening Mr Macron’s optimistic outlook for France – the spread of the Kent variant as well as the South Africa and Brazil strains gaining ground across several regions across the country.
The “weekend circular” from the Ministry of Health to Regional Health Agencies (ARS), hospitals and private clinics represented the second source of concern, according to the insider.
The circular, first unveiled by the Journal de Dimanche, urged organizations to increase the number of beds available as well as postpone pre-planned operations.
Titled “Organisation of the healthcare offer in anticipation of a new epidemic wave,” the note sparked particular concern because of the French Government ongoing refusal to impose further restrictions.
France already instituted a 6am-6pm curfew last month and travel to and from the country is heavily monitored but most shops and schools remain open.
According to Gabriel Attal, the Government’s spokesman: “There is indeed a path to avoid lockdown, this path is not wide but it does exist, and we would be wrong not to do everything possible to achieve it.”
French MEP Stéphane Séjourné, who is also a close adviser to Mr Macron, insisted the Government must keep scientific advice under consideration but also consider the economic needs of the country.
Speaking to Les Echos, Mr Séjourné said: “Doctors must guide us on the health situation and politicians must make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people.
“When we make decisions about the lives of millions of people, they are not made solely on the basis of the health situation.
“We look at the psychological situation of the country […], the economic situation.”
French vaccination chief Alain Fischer reiterated on Monday that the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson should be approved in Europe soon.
Fischer told French BFM television that the vaccine could be rolled out in France’s vaccination campaign by April.
And despite repeated warnings about France falling behind other EU member states in the deliver of the Covid jab, Europe Minister Clement Beaune claimed his country to be doing better than the UK.
Mr Beaune insisted France’s delivery of both doses of vaccine was behind the delay, while the UK’s focus on inoculating most with at least one dose pushed the country ahead.
He said: “The British are going faster because they have relied heavily on the first injection.
“If we take a look at the number of people who have had both injections in the UK and the EU, France included, we see that the number of fully vaccinated people is lower in the UK.
“They have relied heavily on the first dose, setting a very wide gap between the first and the second injection. And that is not recommended by our health authorities, by our Ministry of Health.”
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