Thu, 20 Jan 2022

Covid infections in France have surged by more than 30,000 in past 24 hours, as the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that by March a further 700,000 people could die of Covid in Europe.

France's new cases are a the highest reported in Europe as a fifth wave takes hold with the onset of winter, despite new social distancing measures and a drive to boost vaccinations.

Cochin hospital in Paris said the majority of patients in its intensive care unit were non-vaccinated, young people.

More than 6,000 school classes have been closed across the country. Most are in primary schools, where classes are made to close as soon as the first case of Covid-19 is detected.

France is to discuss its response to the surge at its weekly Health Defence Council meeting held with President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesdays.

'Extreme stress'

The WHO is urging people to get vaccinated and to have booster shots as European deaths surpass 1.5 million. The daily rate, it warned, had doubled from late September to 4,200 deaths a day.

Intensive care units in 49 countries making up Europe and a few nations in western Asia risked experiencing "high or extreme stress", the global health body said.

Health crisis has exacerbated poverty in France, says food charity

France, Germany and Greece were advised make booster jabs a requirement for their citizens to be considered fully vaccinated.

The fifth wave has prompted Austria to return to lockdown, while the Netherlands saw several nights of rioting over a partial lockdown.

Germany is considering new restrictions including the possibility of compulsory vaccines.

Originally published on RFI

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