French Covid infections slow as vaccinations open up to all ages
New Covid-19 infections in France have dropped to the lowest rate in a year, with the government banking on a stepped-up vaccination drive to bring the epidemic under control. From Wednesday, all adults, regardless of age or health status, are allowed to be vaccinated, if they can find an appointment within 24 hours.
"Today the evolution of the epidemic is rather favourable. The downward trend is clear. I am vigilant and I am optimistic," Prime Minister Jean Castex told France 2 television on Tuesday, after health ministry data showed the number of new coronavirus infections increased 2.11 per cent this week, compared to last week, the the slowest pace since June 2020.
Covid hospitalisations are falling, down 638 to 25,028, with 4,743 patients in intensive care units.
Castex said the numbers show the situation in France is improving, and the government is hoping increased vaccinations will continue the trend.
Vaccines open to all adults
On Wednesday any adult over the age of 18 will be eligible for a vaccine, regardless of their health or professional status, but only for day-of or next-day appointments, as per President Emmanuel Macron's announcement last week.
Longer-term appointments are still reserved for those over 50 years old, or with underlying health issues.
Some 18 million people in France have received a first jab, getting close to the government’s goal of vaccinating 20 million, or a third of the population, by mid-May.
One hitch will likely be hesitations about the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is currently only allowed for over 55 years old because of the rare risk that it could cause blood clots.
Emerging from lockdown
France is slowly exiting its third lockdown and restrictive measures will be easing as of Sunday, when some shops will start reopening.
Restaurant and bar terraces would open on 19 May, limited to 50 per cent capacity until 9 June, when indoor seating will be possible, also at half capacity.
Curfews will gradually be lifted, starting on 19 May when it will move from 7pm to 9pm.
“We are finally in the process of emerging on a long-term basis from this health crisis," Castex said on Monday. "We are nearing the end and it's good news."
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