France’s Covid-19 infections top 3mn

France on Friday reported 23,292 more confirmed Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total infections to 30,11,257, showed the government data website.

The country’s Covid-19 death toll now stands at 72,647, 649 more than the previous day. Some 25,872 Covid-19 patients remain in hospital, including 2,912 in intensive care, up 173 and 36 respectively in one day, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The spread of coronavirus variants first detected in the United Kingdom and South Africa has been particularly scrutinized and a new investigation will be launched next week to assess their circulation, said the Health Ministry on its website.

A first investigation, based on positive tests for Covid-19 on January 7 and 8, found that the variant found in UK accounted for about 1.4 per cent of the total of these tests.

Health Minister Olivier Veran on Thursday evening said the government was in “a race against time to curb the virus spread” as the much more contagious new strains are spreading in the country.

He added that stricter measures, including a new confinement, would be implemented if the new variant would circulate further and pressure in hospitals mounted.

Starting from Sunday midnight, France will require all European travellers present a negative PCR test carried out within 72 hours before their arrival, the presidential office announced. This obligation will not apply to frontier workers, or to land transport.

France had already required a negative PCR test of less than 72 hours, a quarantine of seven days and a second test at the end of the quarantine for travellers from countries outside the European Union, the UK included.

Besides, the French government called on the people not to wear homemade masks because they are deemed not sufficiently filtering. It also announced that the necessary safety distance, below which one can be considered in case of contact when not wearing a mask, will be raised from one to two meters.

As of Friday, 9,63,139 people in France have been vaccinated since the start of the vaccination campaign, 139,572 people in 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.