French urged to wear masks, get boosters as Covid cases rebound

·1-min read
AP - Francois Mori

Faced with a resurgence of Covid-19 infections, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has joined calls for masks to be worn on public transport and in other high-risk places. Almost 150,000 cases were recorded in the 24 hours to Tuesday as Omicron sub-variants gain ground.

Borne instructed regional prefects and health authorities to encourage mask-wearing in crowded and enclosed spaces, while urging members of the public to respect barrier gestures, ensure their vaccinations were up to date and get tested if they showed any symptoms.

Public health authority Santé Publique France reported a strong rebound in new cases representing a spike of 54 percent in one week.

The number of people aged over 60 receiving booster vaccines has also gained pace – with a record 70,000 people getting the jab on Friday.

Seventh wave

The seventh wave of the epidemic has taken off throughout France in all age groups, "carried" by the new Omicron BA.5 variant.

In turn, the number of daily hospital admissions has doubled in three weeks, from 400 to 800.

Despite the symbolic threshold of 100,000 cases being surpassed this week – a first in two months – the government is resisting calls from health professionals to enforce mandatory masks on public transport.

"We should not expect drastic measures, we are still at the stage of recommendations and on a message of caution," the Prime Minister’s office said.

Meanwhile the government is working on a new bill, to be presented to parliament in July, that aims to maintain "a health monitoring and safety system" until March 2023.

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