Paris: French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Tuesday said that the country has entered 'a kind of third wave' of COVID-19 infections, amid a surge of cases as numerous variants of the virus has affected the nation.
Castex's statement comes on the one-year mark since France announced the first coronavirus lockdown on March 16, 2020, reported Anadolu Agency. "The pandemic is playing overtime. We are in what looks like a form of third wave ... characterized by the variants," Jean Castex said, addressing the parliamentarians.
During the last 24 hours, 29,975 new infections and 320 deaths have been recorded in France.
Castex further said that the French government at the forefront of its strategy to fight the coronavirus. "We know that it is mass vaccination which will allow us to get out of it," he said.
According to Anadolu Agency, France has vaccinated 5.29 million people after a sluggish pace marred with vaccine hesitancy and reluctance.
In addition to the presence of the UK, South Africa, and Brazil variants, local health authorities in France also confirmed a new variant in Brittany, located in the northernmost region across the English Channel.
Health officials said that the first analysis of the variant did not conclude "increased severity or transmissibility" in comparison to the original virus or variants. It is still classified as a "variant under investigation" after a cluster was first detected at the Lannion Hospital Center, in the Cotes d'Armor department.
So far, eight cases of the new variant have been confirmed by sequencing as the PCR tests showed negative results, Anadolu reported citing a press statement from Brittany's health authorities.
Authorities are now carrying out in-depth investigations and experiments to better understand the variant and to determine its reaction to "vaccination and to the antibodies developed during previous infections."
Meanwhile, hospitals in Paris are close to capacity and health professionals are rushing daily to find beds for their COVID patients. As of Monday, more than 4,200 patients were in intensive care units across France, reported Voice of America.
On top of a delay in the delivery of vaccines, France is among several European nations that have temporarily suspended the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine due to public concerns about the formation of blood clots.
Lockdowns have already been imposed in some hotspots in France, including Dunkirk and Nice, but not in the capital region, reported VOA.
France has so far recorded 4,168,394 infections and 91,324 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.