An “immediate action plan” is being put in place on Saturday in the Occitanie region of southwestern France after two French patients who caught the Delta variant of Covid-19 died, according to the Regional Health Agency (ARS).
The first two cases were in Gers, but Landes, a department that borders Gers, "is experiencing a significant increase in the number of people infected by this variant."
"The virus does not stop at departmental borders," the public health body Occitanie ARS told AFP newswire.
The two patients who had contracted the Delta variant were aged 42 and 60, and whose health status was marked by a number of risk factors. Both were not vaccinated. They were among the nine possible Delta variant cases in the region that were identified on Friday.
“Several other suspected cases are currently under medical investigation and contact-tracing,” according to ARS.
The regional health authority maintains that everything will be done to avoid a swift rise in cases, calling on residents to be screened and vaccinated.
The Delta variant of the coronavirus, more contagious, now represents "between 9 and 10%" of new positive cases in France, up sharply compared to last week, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.
"The Delta is 40 to 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant (identified in the United Kingdom) which was itself already 50 percent more transmissible than the original Sars-Cov-2," epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik told Franceinfo on Saturday.
The European centre for disease control said in a statement on Wednesday that they expected the Delta variant of the coronavirus would become dominant, estimating around 90 percent of cases on the continent, by the end of the summer.
According to the French government app TousAntiCovid, there were 1,986 new Covid-19 cases in France, as ICU occupancy is at 27 percent. There are 39 new ICU patients as of Saturday, making 1,389 patients total in the ICU.
Statistics from 24 June indicate that 32.94 million people in France have been vaccinated, nearly half of the 67 million residents of France.