Covid-19: No return to 'normal' life until autumn 2021, French government adviser says

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The French public will probably not see a return to "normal" post-coronavirus life before autumn 2021, the president of France's Scientific Council, which is advising the government on the Covid-19 pandemic, said in an interview on Friday, noting that vaccination campaigns will take time.

"Vaccines are a major source of hope but if you look at the vaccination capabilities that we will have in France and elsewhere in Europe, we will need time," immunologist and Scientific Council head Jean-François Delfraissy told France's BFM TV.

“The production of vaccines will be slower than envisioned 15 days or three weeks ago,” Delfraissy continued. “We will not face a vaccine shortfall but we will have something that is more spread out over time.”

The next six months will continue to be difficult as vaccination campaigns ramp up in the first three or four months of 2021. Asked whether that meant no return to normal life until the autumn, Delfraissy said that yes, that was likely.

Delfraissy's comments came just a day after French President Emmanuel Macron became the latest world leader to test positive for the coronavirus. Macron, 42, was tested after the "onset of the first symptoms" and will self-isolate for seven days in accordance with national regulations, his Élysée Palace office said in a statement.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex will self-isolate after contact with Macron, his office said, adding that he was showing no symptoms and had tested negative. First Lady Brigitte Macron will also be self-isolating but shows no symptoms.

A flurry of contact-tracing followed the announcement since Macron had recently been in contact with several other world leaders. He attended an EU summit in Brussels last week and attended a conference in Paris organised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Monday. European Council president Charles Michel, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa have all gone into self-isolation and cancelled events after meeting with Macron.

The timing is awkward for the French leader, who is trying to handle the pandemic crisis in his own country while keeping a close eye on Brexit talks and a host of other international issues.

Macron has repeatedly urged caution against the spread of the virus and in public he always wears a face mask covering his mouth and nose.

France earlier this week eased restrictions imposed to battle the second wave of the coronavirus but infection rates remain high.

There is still a nationwide overnight curfew from 8pm to halt the spread of the virus while restaurants and cafes, as well as theatres and cinemas, remain closed.

More than 59,000 people have died in France since the start of the pandemic.

Despite the precautions, more than 18,000 new cases were registered on Thursday, the highest daily tally since November 20.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)