A new containment “would probably become an absolute necessity” if the circulation of the English variant of the coronavirus increased “significantly” in France, French Minister of Health Olivier Véran warned Thursday.
• Read also: All developments in the COVID-19 pandemic
“If the share of (this) variant were to increase significantly and we were to follow an English-style trajectory, confinement would probably become an absolute necessity,” said Mr. Véran before the Senate Law Committee.
“The spread of the variant of English origin on French territory can be a determining element in the strategies to fight against the epidemic that we could deploy in the coming days and the coming weeks”, continued the minister, heard in the framework of the bill on the extension of the state of health emergency.
“When I talk about a race against time, I weigh my words. (…) It is a determining factor for the days, weeks and months to come, and I also speak in days ”, he insisted.
In France, this variant represents at this stage around 1.4% of the total daily Covid-19 contamination, as shown by a recent survey carried out on all positive PCR tests.
Initially spotted in England, this more contagious variant worries the international community.
Even if it does not seem intrinsically more dangerous than the classic coronavirus, it risks posing a major problem: more people infected, more patients end up in hospital, with an increased risk that the health system is submerged.
The United Kingdom is currently facing serious difficulties in its hospitals, and on Wednesday recorded 1,820 additional deaths, a new daily record. “This will continue, because what we are seeing is the result of the new variant,” warned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Other variants, including one initially detected in South Africa, are also worrying the international community. In addition to being more transmissible, like the English variant, they seem to risk compromising the effectiveness of vaccines.