“Our epidemic is still far from over,” Attal said, pointing to the incidence rate, which has tripled in two weeks nationwide because of the virulence of the Omicron variant.
“This supersonic rise in contamination will continue over the next few days, and even into the next few weeks,” he warned, adding that case numbers were at ‘stratospheric levels’ in several regions, including the greater Paris Île-de-France region and Corsica, while hospitals in southeast France were under heavy strain.
States of emergency have also been declared in the overseas territories of Guadeloupe, Guyana, Mayotte, Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélémy.
He said that this latest wave of the virus is different to earlier ones because Omicron is “two to three times” less severe than Delta. But he warned that the number of cases would inevitably impact hospitals and healthcare services.
And he defended the government’s vaccination-led strategy, which he said has permitted “the feat of reconciling a maximum circulation of the virus with minimal restrictions,” pointing out that, around Christmas last year bars, restaurants and cinemas were closed and French people were living under strict evening curfew rules despite there being “10 times fewer cases” at the time.
“We will hold out … thanks to vaccination,” he said.
Asked about President Macron’s declared desire to “piss off” the unvaccinated, Attal said that the remarks “fall far short of the anger of a very large majority of French people”.
“Who is screwing whose life today?” Attal asked “Who is wasting the lives of our caregivers? The ones who oppose vaccines.”