France reports record daily tally of 208,000 COVID-19 cases

Dec 29, 2021: France is in the grips of an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 infections, with 208,000 cases reported during the past 24 hours on Wednesday, a new national and European record, Health Minister Olivier Veran has told lawmakers.

The country has been breaking infection records repeatedly during the past few days, with Tuesday’s 180,000 cases already the highest for a country in Europe, according to data on

Global COVID-19 infections have reached record highs over the past seven days, with data from Reuters and AFP news agencies showing on Wednesday that the new variant of Omicron is spreading rapidly, causing many workers to stay at home. The situation in French hospitals was already troubling because of the delta.

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Following a cabinet meeting on Monday to discuss the crisis, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced several measures to try to contain the pandemic, but withdrew from the massive sanctions or lockdowns that the European Union has imposed. 

Some new restrictions, such as banning food on high-speed trains or standing in cafes and bars, have been criticized by critics and political opponents as being too effective. The government announced on Wednesday that about 1,600 nightclubs in the country would remain closed for another three weeks following an order to close on December 6.

Daily hospital admissions for COVID in France are averaging above 1,000 a day, still well below the peak of 3,500 during the first wave in April 2020 or nearly 3,000 in the second wave in November last year. However, the exponential rise in cases is causing alarm.

Many hospitals, particularly those in the hotspots of France and the southern Mediterranean coast, are already cancelling non-essential operations due to the surge in COVID admissions, most of which are unvaccinated people.

Despite France having one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, with 90 percent of the eligible population having had at last one dose, there are still five million unvaccinated people who are old enough to get the jabs.

The government is planning on introducing a new law where a new “vaccine pass” system will replace the previous “health pass”, which could be obtained by providing a recent negative COVID test in the absence of vaccination.

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