South African strain on the rise in Paris but Indian variant yet to reach France

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French Health Minister Olivier Véran said Tuesday that the South African variant of Covid-19 is on the rise in Paris's greater Île-de-France region but no strains of the Indian variant had so far been detected in mainland France.

The South African variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Île-de-France, Minister of Health Olivier Véran warned on Tuesday.

“We have seen a large increase this week in the proportion [of Covid-19 cases involving] the South African variant, which accounted for 6 percent of diagnoses and which now accounts for 10 percent, especially in the inner suburbs of Paris," he announced on the sidelines of a visit to a regional health crisis centre in the hard-hit Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis.

However, Véran said no cases have been confirmed involving the Indian variant in mainland France.

President Emmanuel Macron will be speaking in the coming days to detail the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, Véran said, despite surging ICU admissions. French hospitals recorded 400 new deaths on Monday and exceeded the threshold of 6,000 Covid-19 patients in intensive care, a level not seen since April 2020 during the first wave of the epidemic.

“We have to continue our efforts, particularly in the fight against the spread of the variants which, as we know, are more contagious," Véran said.

France was poised to surpass the symbolic bar of 20 million vaccinations (first and second doses combined) on Tuesday, but the slow roll-out of innoculations remains insufficient to help France emerge from its health crisis. On Monday, 27% of the adult population had received a first dose of vaccine while 10.8 percent had received two doses.

(FRANCE 24 with Reuters and AFP)