A resurgence of COVID cases could lead to France having a fourth wave, a top scientist has warned.
The French government’s leading scientific adviser Professor Jean-Francois Delfraissy said the Delta variant first found in India could see cases continue to rise.
Medical experts in France have voiced concerns that a new wave could hit the country by September or October and pressure has been growing on the government to introduce tougher safety measures.
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However, it is hoped the vaccine rollout programme should help to limit the impact of any fresh wave of the COVID-19 virus.
“I think we will have a fourth wave, but it will be much more moderate than the previous three waves because the level of vaccinations is different compared to before,” Professor Delfraissy told France Info radio.
Epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet, who also advises the French government on scientific matters, told BFM TV that he expected France’s COVID-19 infection numbers to rise again in September or October.
Infections, hospitalisations and deaths have been dropping in France for weeks, but with only 32% of the population fully vaccinated so far, concerns are growing about the highly contagious Delta variant.
The variant accounts for about 20% of new cases in France and is becoming “progressively dominant”, the country’s health minister Olivier Veran told broadcaster France Info.
The minister in charge of elder care, Brigitte Bourguignon, says the government “doubled the doses” of vaccines sent to the southwest Landes region, where the variant makes up a majority of infections and recently swept through a nursing home.
She said the government has sent a letter to all nursing homes in France urging staff to get vaccinated, adding it is “a moral imperative”.
Staff have been warned that getting vaccinated could become mandatory if they do not comply by September.
Earlier this month, restaurants, cafes and bars across the country were allowed to open for the first time in seven months while mask wearing rules for many outdoor settings was also relaxed.
It came as France started to ease its COVID-19 restrictions earlier than originally planned.
A nationwide night-time curfew, which had been in place since the end of 2020, ended 10 days early on 20 June.
But lawmakers in France have been calling for the government to introduce tougher measures to slow the spread of the Delta variant.
France has recorded more virus infections than any European country and has had more than 111,000 confirmed deaths.
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