Relaxed Christmas and New Year could lead to third wave of coronavirus, warns French scientist

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Christmas window displays in Paris, France on Nov. 18, 2020 as shoppers are warned to shop while practicing social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo by Lionel Urman/Sipa USA)
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a shop's Christmas window display in Paris, France. (PA)

A third wave of coronavirus could hit France in the middle of January if people are too relaxed about social distancing over Christmas and New Year, a leading scientist has warned.

Eric Caumes, head of infectious diseases at Paris hospital La Pitié-Salpêtrière and one of France’s top COVID-19 experts, said the country’s infection rate wasn’t falling quickly enough.

He told LCI television on Monday that if French people are not cautious enough over Christmas and New Year, it will lead to a third wave of the virus in mid-January.

He said France’s infections per day figure is unlikely to fall below its target of 5,000 by 15 December, when the government plans to lift its lockdown.

France reported 12,923 new coronavirus cases on Saturday and another 11,022 on Sunday.

Caumes said the reason the figure is not dropping at a faster rate is because people are not sufficiently respecting social distancing measures.

France plans to emerge from its second national lockdown on 15 December, replacing it with a nationwide curfew from 9pm to 7am, although this will not apply on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Ski resorts will remain closed.

Watch: Protests over COVID closures of French ski resorts

President Emmanuel Macron has said the French lockdown, which started on 30 October, can be lifted in mid-December if the daily infection rate drops below 5,000.

But Caumes said: "No, I do not think this target can be reached as the trend downward stopped, it is stabilising.

“So it will be difficult to reach that target.”

His comments echo those of a French hospital director who said last month that Christmas could cause a third wave of coronavirus.

There have been similar warnings in the UK – last month, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies warned that the planned relaxation of coronavirus restrictions at Christmas could lead to a third wave early next year.

Read more

The Tier 3 COVID lockdown rules explained

The Tier 2 COVID lockdown rules explained

England went into its own second national lockdown just days after the French on 5 November, ending on 2 December.

The British government has repeatedly failed to rule out a third lockdown in January.

Last week, environment secretary George Eustice said: “You can’t rule anything out because this is a rapidly developing situation.

“Provided we maintain the tiered approach for as long as necessary, I don’t think it will be necessary to go back into another full lockdown.”

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab said previously that a third wave is possible after Christmas if Britain “doesn’t get the balance right”.

Watch: COVID dos and don’ts of Christmas

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting