'Race against time' as Covid variants outpace vaccines in France

French Director General of Health Jerome Salomon.
French Director General of Health Jerome Salomon. REUTERS - POOL

France’s public health chief has said the country is entering a crucial six-week period, as the government steps up its Covid-19 vaccination programme in a bid to slow the spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants.  


“We are in a race against time between the spread of the variants and their impact and this acceleration of the vaccination campaign,” said director of public health Jérôme Salomon. 

More than 20 French administrative departments remain under heightened surveillance with hospitals nearing capacity and the looming threat of weekend lockdowns.

No Paris lockdown

But Salomon said confinement was not currently on the cards for the Ile-de-France region, which includes Paris, despite very high hospital and intensive care admissions. 

“This last resort measure would be proposed to the government and the head of state if we had the impression that the hospitals could not hold," he said. “We are under very high pressure, we are freeing beds and we are monitoring the situation day after day."

The Ile-de-France regional health agency has ordered hospitals and clinics to cut non-Covid procedures by 40 percent in order to deal with the high admissions.

As of Monday, there were 973 Covid patients occupying the region's 1,050 beds. 


Covid-19 patient numbers spiked two weeks ago, as between 70 and 80 patients were being admitted daily with only half the number of patients being discharged, making a daily net increase of 35.

The government and health ministry are to review the national situation at the defence council meeting on Wednesday.

(with AFP)

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