France says 5th Covid wave hitting at ‘lightning’ speed

Published November 22, 2021
Brussels: Protesters ignite a fire in the street during a demonstration against the Belgian government’s measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.—AFP
Brussels: Protesters ignite a fire in the street during a demonstration against the Belgian government’s measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.—AFP

PARIS: Fifth-wave coronavirus infections in France are rising at an alarming rate, the government reported on Sunday, with new daily Covid cases close to doubling over the past week.

The seven-day average of new cases reached 17,153 on Saturday, up from 9,458 a week earlier, according to the health authorities, an increase of 81 percent.

“The fifth wave is starting at lightning speed,” government spokesman Gabrial Attal told media.

The latest seven-day increase is three times the average rise of cases recorded over the previous three weeks, indicating an exponential acceleration of infections.

For now the spike in infections has not led to a massive influx of Covid patients into hospitals, with the authorities attributing the limited number of intensive care patients to France’s high rate of vaccinations which appear highly effective against the most dangerous forms of Covid. On Saturday, hospitals reported a total of 7,974 Covid patients in their care, with 1,333 of them in intensive treatment. This compares to 6,500 and 1,000, respectively, a month earlier.

“There is a very strong increase in infections, but we also know that in France we have a very large vaccination cover,” he said. “We seem to be ahead of our neighbours concerning booster shots.” France’s introduction of a health pass ahead of other countries in the summer was also helping to keep Covid in check, he said.

The health pass, required in French restaurants, cafes and many cultural venues, certifies that a person is fully vaccinated, has recently recovered from Covid, or has tested negative for the virus.

The government continues to stand by its choice to “bring the weight of restrictions to bear on non-vaccinated people rather than vaccinated people”, Attal said.

Dutch police said Sunday they have arrested 19 people over riots in The Hague after the country was rocked by a second night of violence over the government’s coronavirus measures.

Officers in riot gear charged hundreds of demonstrators who set fire to bicycles and an electric moped piled in the middle of a busy intersection on Saturday night. A water cannon put out the blaze.

“The police were also pelted with heavy fireworks and stones thrown from roofs,” the Hague police said in a statement.

“Officers made a total of 19 arrests for, among other things, insult.” Riot police in one incident dragged a woman from a passing car after the occupants shouted at police, and put her into a police van, correspondents witnessed.

Five police officers were injured during the unrest while a rock thrown by rioters smashed the window of a passing ambulance carrying a patient, police said.

Riots also erupted in the central “Bible Belt” town of Urk and cities in southern Limburg province, while angry fans disrupted two football matches being played behind closed doors because of coronavirus rules, Dutch media said.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2021

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