PARIS (Reuters) – France’s COVID-19 situation could improve over the next four to six weeks, as more of the country’s population gets vaccinated, which could lead to a gradual return to normal life, French Health Minister Olivier Veran reaffirmed on Friday.
Veran also told BFM TV that France was doing all it could to avoid a new national lockdown, although the government would keep all options open.
The French government has spared the Paris region from a weekend coronavirus lockdown for now and pledged to accelerate the vaccine rollout in two dozen high-risk zones in an effort to ease the load on hospitals and stave off further restrictions.
President Emmanuel Macron is determined to keep the economy open as long as possible even as the COVID-19 infection rate rises nationally, and the government is sticking to its 6pm-6am nationwide curfew strategy.
On Thursday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said around 60% of French COVID-19 cases were from the variant first discovered in England, and Veran said around 6% were from the variants found in Brazil and South Africa.
France registered 25,279 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing its total of cases to 3.84 million, and 293 more deaths, for a total death toll of 87,835.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Toby Chopra)