Covid-19: Omicron could be dominant strain in France by end of January, warns government advisor

·2-min read
Masked passengers queuing at Charles-de-Gaulle international airport in Paris  (AFP via Getty Images)
Masked passengers queuing at Charles-de-Gaulle international airport in Paris (AFP via Getty Images)

Omicron could become the dominant Covid-19 strain in France by the end of January, a senior government advisor has warned.

The warning comes as the number of cases of the strain identified in the country increased to nine.

Covid-19 cases have skyrocketed in France, with the average number of new infections reported each day rising by more than 27,200 over the last three weeks.

On Thursday, France recorded more than 45,000 new infections of Covid-19 for the third day running.

Omicron has sparked panic among scientists over fears that it is highly transmissible and could potentially evade protection offered by vaccines.

“We should see a progressive rise of the Omicron variant, which will take over from Delta,” possibly by the end of January, French government advisor Jean-Francois Delfraissy told BFM television.

But he added that the “true enemy” for now is still the Delta variant.

“Christmas is not at risk if the population and decision-makers are all very cautious”, he said, emphasising that social distancing and booster shots were key weapons in the fight against Covid-19.

There were 1,886 people in intensive care units with Covid-19 on Wednesday, a level Delfraissy said was not yet a peak, particularly when compared to the 6,000 to 7000 recorded at the height of the second wave in France last autumn.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran has warned that the new wave of infections could put renewed strain on the country’s hospitals.

“The fifth wave is spreading quickly…it has a very noticeable impact on the hospital system,” Veran told France Info radio.

The European Union’s public health agency warned on Thursday that Omicron could be responsible for more than half of all Covid-19 infections in Europe within months.

"Based on mathematical modelling conducted by ECDC, there are indications that Omicron could cause over half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in the EU/EEA within the next few months," the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a statement.

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