PARIS (Reuters) – France is facing a new wave of COVID-19 infections fueled by new variants of the disease, French vaccination chief Alain Fischer said on Wednesday, as new daily cases hit a high. peak of nearly two months the day before at more than 95,000.
Speaking on France 2 television, he said there was no doubt that there was an upsurge in the pandemic again in the country, adding that he was personally in favor of reinstating compulsory face mask wearing. in public transport.
“The question is, ‘How strong is this wave? ‘” Fischer said.
Other European countries, in particular Portugal, are also seeing an increase, due to two new sub-variants of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, which the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control says are expected to become dominant in the region.
The variants do not appear to pose a higher risk of severe disease than other forms of Omicron, but since they are somewhat more infectious than the latter, it could lead to increased hospitalizations and deaths, the ECDC said.
There’s traditionally a two-week lag between cases and hospitalization trends, and then a similar lag for COVID deaths.
New infections have been rising steadily since late May in France, with the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases almost tripling between May 27’s figure of 17,705 and Tuesday’s 50,402.
This total nevertheless remains seven times lower than the record of 366,179 reached at the start of the year.
The number of people hospitalized with the disease fell to a six-month low of 13,876 on Saturday, but rose by 458 in the past three days to 14,334, a nearly three-week high.
The number of COVID deaths in France rose by 56 over 24 hours on Tuesday, to reach 149,162.
(Reporting by Myriam Rivet and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by William Maclean)