Véran warns of overloaded hospitals from Delta variant in next wave of pandemic

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French health minister Olivier Véran warned on Sunday that the country was facing the force of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

"We are at the start of something that looks like an epidemic wave,” he told the French broadcaster Radio J. "It’s the new enemy because it is much more contagious,”

Public health officials in France say they are concerned that hospitals will become saturated with patients suffering from the disease.

"The load for the moment is not increasing,” Veran added. “But the same thing will happen as last summer ... that is to say that young people will contaminate the less young, and, because not everyone is vaccinated, you will have an increase in health pressure, an increase in serious cases and hospitalisations.”

His gloomy prognosis came on the eve of a meeting at the Elysée during which President Emmanuel Macron is expected to weigh up whether to order compulsory vaccinations for caregivers.

Last week the prestigious Académie Nationale de Médicine recommended mandatory vaccinations for all French people over the age of 12.

It added: "While individual freedom must be respected, it is limited when there is a danger to others. In the face of Covid-19, vaccination is not only a civic gesture, it is an ethical imperative."

More than 111,000 people have died in France since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in January 2020.

On Saturday, French health monitors counted 4,696 additional cases of coronavirus against just over 3,000 a week earlier.

“That could become 6,000 cases in a week, 12,000 cases in 15 days and rise to 20,000 or more in early August if we don't act," Veran added .

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