France has recorded more than 100,000single-day infections for the first time in the pandemic and COVID-19-related hospitalizations have doubled in the past month as the rapid spread complicates the efforts of the French government to avoid a new lockdown.
More than one in 100 people in the Paris region tested positive last week, according to the regional health service. Most of the new infections are linked to the Omicron variant, which government experts say will be dominant in France in the coming days. Omicron is already dominant in Great Britain, across the Channel.
Meanwhile, an increase in Delta variant infections in recent months is pushing up hospital admissions in France and putting pressure on intensive care units again during the Christmas holidays. More than 1,000 people in France infected with the virus have died in the past week, bringing the country’s total death toll to more than 122,000.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government is holding emergency meetings on Monday to discuss next steps in the fight against the virus. Some scientists and educators have urged delaying going back to school after the holidays or suggesting reimposing a curfew.
But France’s education minister said schools are expected to open as usual on January 3, and other government officials are working to avoid measures that would hamper the country’s economic recovery.
Instead, the French government is hoping that the boosted vaccinations will be enough. The government is pushing a bill that would require vaccinations to enter all restaurants and many public places, instead of the current health card system that allows people to produce a negative test or proof of recovery if they don’t. are not vaccinated.
In neighboring Belgium, the government imposed new measures from Sunday which ordered the closure of cultural places such as cinemas and concert halls.
Some venues have defied the ban and thousands of artists, event planners and others demonstrated in Brussels against the decision on Sunday, carrying signs reading “The Show Must Go On” or “No Culture No Future “. They accused the Belgian government of double standards because it allowed Christmas markets, with their noisy crowds and mulled wine consumption, to remain open, along with restaurants and bars.
Even the scientific committee advising the Belgian government had not called for the closure of the culture industry, leaving virologist Marc Van Ranst to wonder that in Belgium, “gluhwein beats culture”.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has gone further than most European countries and closed all non-essential shops, restaurants and bars and extended school holidays in a.
In Britain, where the Omicron variant has dominated for days, government demands have been largely voluntary and milder than those on the mainland, but the Tory government has said it may impose further restrictions after Christmas. The UK hit a new high of 122,186 daily infections on Friday, but did not release figures for Christmas.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on Sunday imposed new restrictions on socialization, mainly limiting the size of gatherings, measures that the restaurant, pub and nightclub industries have described as economically devastating .