Sunday, 28 Nov 2021

Macron to issue urgent Covid update as cases surge ‘Europe at the epicentre’

Emmanuel Macron embraces Angela Merkel as they say goodbye

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Infection rates have accelerated strongly in the past month, with the number of new COVID-19 cases rising by double-digit percentages from last week for several days in a row. French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters: “The epidemic is picking up speed again in Europe, Europe has again become the epicentre of the epidemic.”

The seven-day average of daily new infections now stands at more than 6,200, up from less than 4,200 in early October.

Attal said Mr Macron would review the COVID-19 situation and would also talk about the country’s economic recovery, the government’s reform programme and other issues.

The French President’s office said the speech would be on Tuesday.

Mr Macron’s last major televised speech was on July 12 at the start of a fourth wave of infections.

He announced then that vaccinations would be mandatory for all health workers.

French epidemiologists have recently suggested widening the scope of the vaccine booster campaign to include new categories.

This is not an explosion, but it requires the greatest vigilance

Jean Castex

On Wednesday, the government said face masks would again be compulsory from next week for school children in 39 regional departments where infection rates are high.

Prime Minister Jean Castex, meanwhile, said the national incidence rate – the number of new infections per week per 100,000 inhabitants – was now well above the alert level of 50.

He said: “This is not an explosion, but it requires the greatest vigilance. 

“Now is not the time to let our guard down.”

The average weekly incidence rate set a 2021 high of 438 in April and then fell below 20 at the end of June following a series of confinement measures.

It rose again to 247 at the peak of the fourth wave in mid-August. 

After briefly falling below the alert level of 50 in early October, the trend turned again on October 21 and the incidence rate stood at 65 on Thursday.

French health authorities reported 9,502 daily new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, pushing the seven day moving average of new cases to a six-week high.

That average – which smoothes out daily reporting irregularities – rose to 6,226, a level unseen since Sept 22, from a three-month low of 4,172 on Oct. 10.

It had set a 2021 record of 42,225 in mid-April before falling to a 2021 low of 1,816 at the end of June.

The cumulative total of new cases now stands at 7.19 million.

In another sign the virus is ramping up again, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care rose by 3 in 24 hours to 1,099 and by 62 over a week.

France also registered 49 new deaths from the epidemic, taking the total to 117,832. The seven day moving average of new fatalities reached an almost one-month high of 34.

(More to follow)

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