Macron: ‘Difficult’ weeks ahead as France logs over 230,000 cases

Medical staff members tend to a COVID-19 patient under respiratory assistance, in a room of the intensive care unit of the Andre – Gregoire hospital in Montreuil, east of Paris, on Dec 14, 2021.
(JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP)

PARIS / LISBON / NAIROBI – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said the next few weeks would be difficult as the country headed into subdued New Year celebrations after registering 232,200 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours, its highest-ever recorded total.

"The weeks to come will be difficult, we all know that", Macron said in a broadcast New Year's Eve address.

New infections over the last 24 hours were above 200,000 for the third day running, making France one of the epicenters as a wave of infections linked to the Omicron variant sweeps across Europe

New infections over the last 24 hours were above 200,000 for the third day running, making France one of the epicenters as a wave of infections linked to the Omicron variant sweeps across Europe.

ALSO READ: France sets new daily record of over 200,000 new virus cases

Infections in France, one of the countries carrying out widespread testing, stood well above the tally recorded in Italy and Britain, which also reported new records on Friday, with 144,243 and 106,122 cases respectively.

In Paris, the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks display centred on the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs d’Elysees has been canceled because city authorities said they feared it would lead to large crowds of people unable to observe social distancing. Dancing at hospitality venues and nightclubs has been forbidden.

President Macron on Friday reiterated his call for mass vaccination, calling the jabs France's "sure shot" solution for a way out of the pandemic which he said he believed was possible in 2022.

In his address, Macron did not mention a need for more restrictive health measures than those already announced, adding that the government should refrain from further limiting people's individual freedoms.

"We will go through the current challenge by following the same principles as on the first day (of the pandemic)", he said.

Portugal

Portugal registered 30,829 new infections with COVID-19 in the last 24 hours on Friday, a new high since the beginning of the pandemic and bringing the total number of infections to 1,389,646.

There were also 18 more deaths associated with COVID-19, according to figures released by the Portuguese Directorate-General for Health (DGS).

A couple crosses the street in Lisbon on Dec 30, 2021. (PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP)

The daily epidemiological bulletin of the DGS registers a reduction in the number of hospitalized people, totaling 1,024 admissions, 145 of which in intensive care units.

The Omicron variant is responsible for 82.9 percent of registered infections in the country, said the country's health authorities. Since Dec 6, there has been an exponential growth in the proportion of probable cases of the Omicron variant, it added. 

Kenya 

Kenyan Ministry of Health on Friday said it had vaccinated more than 10 million people, achieving a target it had set for itself to attain before the end of 2021.

Mutahi Kagwe, the cabinet secretary of the Ministry of Health, said in a statement that out of the 10 million people, 5.8 million are adults who are partially vaccinated while 4.16 million people have taken the two jabs.

"Another 20,121 doses have been administered to those between 15 and 18 years and 5,280 are booster doses," said Kagwe.

People wait to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at Ngando informal settlement in Nairobi, on Dec 16, 2021. (SIMON MAINA / AFP)

The proportion of adults who are fully vaccinated now stood at 15.3 percent and the government was working to vaccinate its overall target of 27 million people, said the official.

Kagwe observed that the country's cumulative COVID-19 positive cases stood at 295,028 after 2,791 more cases were reported as of Thursday from a sample of 9,384.

The vaccination of the 10 million people comes at a time when the east African nation is battling a surge in COVID-19 confirmed cases caused by the Omicron variant.

Kenya has ramped up vaccination as it also fights vaccine hesitancy by denying some services to the unvaccinated.

President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier on Friday announced that effective Jan. 1, 2022, the government would start to administer booster doses to those who are fully vaccinated to protect them from the new variant.