In order not to be overwhelmed by the fifth wave and in the face of the arrival of the Omicron variant, the dangerousness of which is still unknown, the government is not ruling out announcing new measures next week, in the hope of breaking a curve “dizzying”. For his first release after a Covid-19 infection and ten days of isolation, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Thursday that a Health Defense Council would take place on Monday. It will be a question of “seeing if it is necessary to take additional measures”, he declared.

Three weeks before Christmas, does that mean the return of restrictions? Can France take measures as severe as some of its neighbors, like Germany, which will prohibit access to non-essential shops, restaurants, places of culture or recreation for those who are not vaccinated? Belgium for its part announced on Friday that kindergartens and primary schools would close their doors one week in advance for the Christmas holidays.

“We will, as always, with pragmatism, proportion, and with the same philosophy, an assessment of the situation and the responses to be provided,” said the head of state Emmanuel Macron on Friday from Dubai. “It is a vertiginous curve and therefore it is a Defense Council meeting in this context”, for his part commented the spokesman of the government Gabriel Attal.

This fifth wave is reflected in a clear deterioration of the indicators. As of Friday, 49,858 cases were identified, for a daily seven-day average of 38,890, against less than 6,000 a month earlier. An increase which also affects the hospital. Some 11,103 Covid patients are currently hospitalized in France, including 2,058 in critical care services, against around 6,600 and 1,000 a month earlier.

Several hospitals have reactivated their “white plan”, such as the Lille University Hospital. This plan notably enables the mobilization of additional resources in order to maintain optimal patient care. “This important decision was taken, after discussions in the crisis unit, in view of the evolution of the epidemic situation in the Lille metropolitan area”, explained the hospital.

12 cases of Omicron detected

According to health authorities, the level of incidence (the proportion of new cases) is now higher than the peak of the 4th wave: 342 cases per 100,000 inhabitants last week. It is particularly high in children aged 6 to 10 (750 per 100,000), who do not have access to vaccination. For the moment, the government is banking on two weapons to defend itself against this worsening of the epidemic. “We must continue to vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate, to respect the barrier gestures”, pleaded Friday Emmanuel Macron.

The recall campaign is in full swing and the government is ensuring that the eligible population – those over 18 – will not run out of doses. For 5-11 year olds at risk of severe forms, vaccination should be opened “from mid to late December,” Health Minister Olivier Véran said on Friday. For everyone else, it will come “probably at the beginning of January, gradually and on an optional basis”.

But a new enemy is emerging: the Omicron variant, which worries about the extremely high number of its mutations. It is too early at the moment to know whether it will be particularly contagious and whether it will partially resist current vaccines. Health authorities in many countries are watching him like milk on fire. In France, the number of cases of infection with the Omicron variant now stands at twelve, according to the latest report updated Friday evening. All those who tested positive for this variant “had a history of travel to southern Africa,” Public Health France said on Friday.

The current wave, whose peak could occur between mid-December and the end of January, is for the moment only due to the Delta variant, hegemonic. Less than a month before the end of year celebrations, this air of “déjà vu” begins to alarm the business world. The events industry has been experiencing an avalanche of cancellations in recent days and the list is expected to grow. In the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, the town hall of Biarritz has decided to cancel two evenings to bring together on Saturday and Sunday some 9,000 clubbers.

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