French health authorities on Tuesday said they had registered 271,686 new Covid-19 infections, the highest recorded to date, confirming France's position as Europe's hardest-hit country as the Omicron wave sweeps across the continent.
The more-contagious Omicron variant of coronavirus drove the number of confirmed cases in France to more than 160,000 per day last week and more than 200,000 for four consecutive days over the weekend.
France on Saturday became the sixth country in the world to report more than 10 million Covid-19 infections since the outbreak of the pandemic, according to official data.
"The tidal wave has indeed arrived, it's enormous, but we will not give in to panic," Health Minister Olivier Véran told parliament.
In a fresh effort to combat Covid transmission, French MPs on Monday began debating draft legislation that would require most people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before entering public spaces. The bill would make it mandatory for people to show proof of being vaccinated – and not just a negative Covid test or proof one has recovered from coronavirus – to access public venues and transport.
Dubbed the "vaccine pass", the bill's main measure is aimed at convincing France's remaining 5 million unvaccinated people over the age of 12 to get inoculated.
In an interview with Le Parisien published on Tuesday, President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted to severely limit the access unvaccinated people had to social events, vowing to make life difficult for them.
"As for those who are unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off," he said. "And so we will continue to do so, until the end. That is the strategy."
Reacting to critics who say the draft law under consideration infringes on people's civil liberties, Health Minister Véran said that "selfishness often hides behind talk of supposed liberty".
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS & AFP)