France records its highest daily number of COVID-19 as the WHO warns of a ‘tsunami of cases’ worldwide

France has reported 208,000 new COVID-19 cases – a record driven by the Omicron variant.

In announcing the daily statement, Health Minister Olivier Veran defended a government plan to allow only fully vaccinated people into venues, including restaurants, cinemas, theaters, museums and sports arenas.

The passport will also be required on long-distance trains and domestic flights.

Wearing masks on the streets of Paris will also be mandatory from Friday with a fine of 135 euros for non-compliance, local authorities said in a press release.

Mask wearing is already mandatory in public buildings and public transport throughout France.

Veran said more than two people tested positive every second in France.

He said it was estimated that about 10 percent of the French population had been in recent contact with an infected person.

Speaking to those who have not been vaccinated, he said: “There is really little chance that you can escape this time. [COVID-19]”The virus is spreading too fast.”

Veran said 70 percent of the population in intensive care units at public hospitals in Paris were unvaccinated.

The accelerated introduction of the so-called vaccine passport is part of a government strategy to use vaccinations instead of new lockdowns to try to mitigate Omicron’s impact on already congested hospitals.

France has vaccinated 77 percent of its population and is urgent with booster shots.

However, more than 4 million adults remain unvaccinated, including more than 1 million people over the age of 65.

More than 3,400 COVID-19 patients were admitted to intensive care units on Wednesday, a 10 percent increase over the past week.

But the number is lower than during the previous peak in the spring, when about 6,000 COVID-19 patients needed intensive care.

Shoppers wearing face masks
If the vaccine passport is approved, unvaccinated persons will no longer be able to use negative test results to gain access to places where vaccine passports are required.(AP: Michel Euler)

The government wants the vaccine passport to be in place by mid-January.

The bill is likely to be voted on quickly in parliament, with President Emmanuel Macron’s party having a majority in the National Assembly, which has the final say.

Delta and Omicron lead to ‘tsunami of cases’

The simultaneous circulation of the Delta and Omicron variants of coronavirus is creating a “tsunami of cases,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization.

“Delta and Omicron are now twin threats, driving cases up to record numbers, leading to increases in hospitalization and deaths,” he said.

Dr. Tedros reiterated its call on countries to share vaccines more fairly, warning that the weight of boosters in richer countries could leave poor nations short of jabs.

He said the WHO was campaigning for each country to reach a target of 70 percent vaccine coverage by mid-2022, which would help end the acute phase of the pandemic.

New Year’s Eve will mark the second anniversary of China’s warning to the WHO of 27 cases of “viral pneumonia” of unknown origin in the city of Wuhan.

More than 281 million people have since been reported to be infected globally, and more than 5 million have died, according to a Reuters poll.

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