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French PM says epidemic situation "particularly fragile," but no need for lockdown now

Feb 05, 2021

Paris (France), February 5: The epidemic situation in France was "particularly fragile" as those more infectious variants of the coronavirus circulate faster, but there was no need for the moment to impose a new nationwide lockdown, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday.
With daily averages of 20,000 new infection cases, 1,600 hospital admissions and 320 deaths, "the situation remains worrying," Castex warned.
However, he said "for the moment, there is no necessity to lock down," arguing that "the level of incidence is certainly high, but it is still much lower than it was last October" when the country entered into second confinement.
"A new lockdown can only be considered as a very last resort. Currently, the situation does not justify such a move," Castex told reporters at a weekly press briefing on the epidemic situation.
"The objective is not to delay (the confinement) but to do everything possible to avoid it. We must hold on, act together," he said.
Castex also said that the percentage of infections by the new variants among new cases has increased from 3.3 percent on Jan. 8 to 14 percent on Thursday.
France has also confirmed four cases of the coronavirus strain first detected in Brazil, Health Minister Olivier Veran told the press briefing.
"Our objective is clear: we want to limit the spread of these variants as much as possible," said Veran, noting that the country was "in a race against time" against more infectious variants.
By next week, all residents in nursing homes who want to be vaccinated will have received their first jab, while up to 4 million people would have the first dose later this month, according to Castex.
Sticking to a three-to-four-week gap between the two injections, France aims to vaccinate all the citizens aged over 65 by the end of May and all adults before September, he added.
As of Wednesday, France has registered an accumulative total of 3,251,160 infections, and 77,595 patients had lost their lives. Some 1,682,951 people have received a first shot of inoculations, health authority data showed.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 238 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 63 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Feb. 2.
Source: Xinhua