France is experiencing a peak in the Covid-19 Delta variant, accounting for 40% of new infections. The government is urging people to get vaccinated to avoid a fourth wave of infections that could “ruin” the summer. Tourists are encouraged not to visit Spain or Portugal, who see their own peaks in the highly contagious variant.
The Delta variant now represents 40% of new infections in France, against 10% three weeks ago.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal warned on Wednesday that the variant was doubling every week and that a spike in cases could turn into a fourth wave of infections, with the resulting restrictions.
“This variant is dangerous and fast and wherever it is present it can ruin the summer,” Attal said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The number of confirmed contaminations in France is now nearly 2,300, after reaching 1,800 per day in late June and peaking at around 40,000 in March and April.
The increase in cases is recorded among the youngest, between 20 and 29 years old, in the Paris region, in the south-east of France and in Brittany.
“We are getting more and more red flags and we could see the same trajectory as in some neighboring countries,” Attal said.
Cases explode across Europe
Cases in Britain are skyrocketing, while in Spain and Portugal the growing number of positive cases has already forced authorities to impose further restrictions.
Junior European Affairs Minister ClÃ©ment Beaune said on Thursday that even though the borders remained open, he was advising the French to avoid Spain and Portugal for their summer vacation
“Those who have not yet booked their holidays are avoiding Spain and Portugal as destinations,” he told French public television.
Almost 90 percent of positive cases in Portugal are of the Delta variant.
“We are monitoring the situation in the countries where the increase is fast, Portugal and Spain, in particular Catalonia where many French people have gone to party,” said Beaune.
Catalonia will close nightclubs on Friday, the day France plans to reopen its own.
The Delta variant responds to current Covid vaccinations, and the French government is pushing for more people to receive a vaccine, considering making it mandatory for health workers, many of whom are hesitant.
More than 34 million people, or 51% of the population, have received at least one injection of the vaccine, although the rate of first vaccinations has declined in recent weeks.
As the number of cases increases, the number of Covid patients in intensive care units fell below 1,000 for the first time since September, after peaking at 6,000 in April.
The numbers are down, although hospital admissions are typically two weeks behind positive cases, which are on the rise.
President Emmanuel Macron is due to hold a health defense council on Monday and is expected to speak publicly on the Delta variant before the July 14 public holiday in France next week.