French President Emmanuel Macron is to speak on national television tomorrow [Tuesday, 9th of November] to give an update on the Covid-19 situation across the country. The number of daily infections has shot up by nearly 25 percent in the space of a week, prompting speculation about the introduction of a mandatory third vaccine dose.
With less than 6 months to go until presidential elections, Macron is also expected to address economic issues and reforms.
At the height of the epidemic in France in 2020, Emmanuel Macron pulled record audiences with his televised speeches, which announced further restrictions in light of Covid infection rates.
This time, it appears his focus will be on encouraging the French people to take a step further in terms of vaccination, and call on elderly and fragile people to have a third dose of the vaccine.
Last Thursday, the World Health Organization labelled Europe as the new “epicentre of the epidemic”, with an estimated 500,000 deaths by the end of the winter if no further precautions were taken now.
France, however, with 75 percent of the population fully vaccinated, appears in better standing compared to other countries at this stage.
But with winter around the corner, the rate of infections is on the rise again.
According to the public health agency, Santé publique France, 8,547 new infections were reported on Sunday over a 24 hour period, compared to 6,329 last Sunday.
7,230 cases have been reported on average, an increase of around 23.4 percent in the space of a week.
Of the 6,709 Covid patients in hospital, 1,101 are in intensive care, 20 of them admitted in the past 24 hours, and ten deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.
Masks back on at school
The government announced on Monday that masks would again become mandatory in primary schools in 40 departments where the rate had risen to more than 50 cases per 100,000 residents over a five day period.
This comes as children go back to school after a two week midterm holiday.
At the beginning of September, dozens of areas across France were deemed “safe” to take the masks off, however, this has now evolved. In total, children must wear masks at school in 61 departments, including four overseas departments.
“We are not out of the woods yet, and it’s important that the President address the citizens, to tell us where we are at and what to expect,” Yaël Braun-Pivet, head of the parliament law commission for the ruling LREM party told France info.
On the 12 July, during his last national address on Covid, Macron announced the end to free tests and a proposal to extend the health pass, which the parliament has just validated until the end of July 2022.
One of Macron’s objectives, according to parliament president Richard Ferrand, is to “reboot the vaccination campaign”, and look at the possibility of imposing a third dose.
At this stage, only half the eligible people over 65 and of fragile health have gone on to have their third dose, according to the latest figures.
Prime Minister Jean Castex told AFP on Friday that the government was seriously considering integrating the third vaccine dose into the health pass.
“The discussion is on the table, there is a special meeting on Tuesday and the President will draw his conclusions from there,” LREM MP Sylvain Maillard told BFMTV.
Seniors a priority
“The third dose for the entire population is not urgent,” epidemiologist Dominique Costagliola told France Inter radio, adding that the problem at this stage is people who are not vaccinated at all.
Alain Fischer, in charge of the government’s vaccination programme insists that the priority lies with getting a third dose to the most fragile members of the population, and to “convince the 13 percent of those non-vaccinated people over 80” to get the jab.
Macron is also expected to speak about relaunching the economy, pointing to a drop in unemployment figures, as well as providing an update on the reforms underway, such as the controversial pension overhaul.
Several opposition leaders have said the national address will not provide anything new.
“Just double talk by a specialist,” far-left France Unbowed leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI) said.
“It’s a staged update on the health situation, put on by a president who is in election campaign mode,” Green party MP Julien Bayou (EELV) concluded.