Europe, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

France smashes daily record for COVID cases

‘I don’t want to piss off the French…but the unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off,’ says President Macron, criticizing anti-vaxxers

Shweta Desai   | 05.01.2022
France smashes daily record for COVID cases Covid-19 in Paris


France shattered its previous record for the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases Tuesday, registering over 271,000 infections in a single day. 

According to data from the public health department, 271,686 people tested positive and the death toll climbed to 351 in the last 24 hours. 

The figure reflects a significant jump from Dec. 31, when 232,200 cases -- the highest number to date at the time -- was recorded. In the coming days, the figure is expected to surpass 300,000 cases.

The surge, largely resulting from the highly contagious omicron variant, has begun to increase pressure on hospitals with higher hospitalizations than a month before, and with a large number of people testing positive for COVID-19 daily, requiring compulsory isolation or hospitalization, authorities fear worse days ahead.

To prevent a near paralysis of the system, the government has proposed to transform the health pass to a vaccine pass restricting entry for unvaccinated people in public places from Jan. 15. But the bill is facing strong opposition from right-wing parties who suspended discussions overnight in parliament.

After debate on the bill resumed Tuesday, Prime Minister Jean Castex lambasted lawmakers, calling them “irresponsible” for putting the brakes on the discussion of a crucial bill at a time when the virus was racing ahead.

President Emmanuel Macron criticized the nearly 5.3 million eligible people who remain unvaccinated for the deteriorating health situation in the country. He said he cannot punish the unvaccinated by forcibly vaccinating them or putting them in prison. But the vaccine bill will ensure that they can no longer go to restaurants, cafes or watch movies. ​​​​​​​

“I don’t want to piss off the French…but the unvaccinated, I really want to piss them off," he said in an interview with the Le Parisien newspaper.

Macron’s earlier move on the health pass and compulsory vaccines for health care workers was met with widespread protests by anti-vaxxers. The vaccine pass bill is also set to be controversial with presidential elections looming large in April.

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