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France sees 208,000 cases in 24 hours - Europe's highest-ever daily tally

'It is no longer waves of Covid…it's tidal waves'

Source: Daily Mail

France has recorded 208,000 new Covid infections in the past 24 hours, the highest number seen in Europe throughout the entire pandemic.

Health minister Olivier Veran warned lawmakers of the tsunami of new cases, breaking France's own record set a day before with 180,000 infections.  Every second, two people in France are testing positive for COVID-19, Veran said.  And 70 percent of those in intensive care in Paris are unvaccinated, while among the vaccinated patients, 80 percent are immunocompromised.

Veran added that the situation in hospitals was worrying because of the Delta variant, with Omicron yet to have an impact.  The flu will further complicate things for hospitals, he said.

"I wouldn't call Omicron a wave anymore, I would call it a tidal wave," Veran said.  "Given the numbers we have been seeing these past few days, we're talking about a landslide."

France has recorded 208,000 new Covid infections in the past 24 hours, the highest number seen in Europe throughout the entire pandemic.

Some 10 percent of the French population had been in contact with somebody who is infected with the virus, Veran said, and even vaccinations were unlikely to offer enough protection.  "The virus circulation is too intense," he said.

Speaking to those not vaccinated, Mr Veran said: "There is really little chance that this time you can escape (Covid-19): The virus is spreading too fast."

Mr. Veran also advised the most vulnerable people who had not got the vaccine booster shot yet to "protect yourself in the coming days. Don't take risks".

The minister had warned on Monday that France could reach more than 250,000 daily Covid cases by the beginning of January.

France has vaccinated 77 percent of its population and is rushing out booster shots.  But more than four million adults remain unvaccinated, including more than one million people over the age of 65.

More than 3,400 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in intensive care units on Wednesday, an increase of 10% over the past week.  The figure represents two-thirds of ICU beds occupied by people infected with the virus.  But the number is lower than during the previous peak in the spring when about 6,000 Covid-19 patients needed intensive care.  The government wants the vaccine pass to be in place by mid-January.

Global COVID-19 infections hit a record high over the past seven days, Reuters data showed on Wednesday, as the new Omicron variant spread rapidly, keeping many workers at home and overwhelming testing centers.

This week, France announced a raft of new Covid measures, making working from home mandatory three days a week, limiting attendance for indoor events and banning eating on long-distance trains.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government is narrowing the delay for a third booster shot to three months from four, but there will be no curfew for New Year's Eve.

He added that for the next three weeks, all public gatherings will be limited to 2,000 people for indoor events, and to 5,000 people for outdoor events.

Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist at the University of East Anglia, said a ban on food and drinks on long-distance trains was probably an attempt to ensure people wear masks as much as possible.  Prof Hunter told MailOnline: "If people wear face coverings it will reduce the rate of transmission by about 20 percent."  However, he said whether the food and drinks ban will make a big impact was 'uncertain'

Health experts estimated the number of daily cases could increase rapidly by mid-January, even though millions of people received booster shots in recent weeks.

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