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France is cautious after Austria, Germany imposes strict measures

French Junior Industry Minister Agnes Panier-Runaker in Paris on October 18, 2021.

ERIC PIERMON | AFP | Getty Images

French Industry Minister Agnès Pannier-Runaker said on Friday that the government is “very cautiously” monitoring the latest wave of Covid-19 infections in Europe, urging citizens to get vaccinated to avoid the need for stricter measures.

This comes at a time when many countries in Europe are imposing tighter public health restrictions to cope with the sharp rise in the number of Covid infections.

Earlier Friday, Austria became the first country in Western Europe this fall to impose total national isolation.

The World Health Organization has once again recognized Europe as the “epicenter” of the coronavirus pandemic, with the region accounting for the vast majority of new cases and deaths in recent weeks.

“The situation seems like this, and as you can see, I am cautious, slightly better than in Austria and than in Germany. Perhaps this is because we have reached a fairly high level of vaccination coverage, 75% of the total population is “now fully vaccinated,” Pannier-Runaker told CNBC correspondent Karen Tso on Friday.

“We have some kind of tight control over the sanitary situation, but obviously we will be closely monitoring this in the coming days,” she added.

France reported 20,366 cases of Covid on Thursday, registering more than 20,000 new infections every day for the second day in a row as the latest wave of the epidemic gathers steam.

A French government spokesman said earlier this week that no additional measures were on the agenda, adding that the focus would be on vaccinations to limit the number of people entering the hospital.

“Please get vaccinated”

When asked if the economic blow from the new isolation would be comparable to the first wave of Covid infections in Europe last year, Pannier-Runaker replied: “I don’t think so, because now we know how to organize ourselves.”

“But it would not be good news to be able to take stricter controls. This is why we are pushing people to get vaccinated, and this will be my key message: please get vaccinated, ”she said. …

“As of today, this is the only weapon we have against this virus, and it seems to be quite effective, even if not perfect.”

The Austrian government said Friday that it will introduce isolation measures for an initial period of 10 days from Monday, warning that the measures could remain in effect for up to 20 days. Unvaccinated in the country they are already prohibited from leaving their homes for non-essential purposes.

Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said the government plans to make the Covid vaccine mandatory for the entire population by February next year, adding that it is necessary to prevent a new wave of infections.

Austria reported 15,145 new cases of Covid on Thursday, another record for daily positive tests. The number of hospitalizations, deaths and the number of Covid patients in intensive care units is also growing rapidly.

About 65% of the Austrian population is fully vaccinated against the virus, which Schallenberg previously described as “shamefully low”.

Approximately 68% of the German population is fully vaccinated. Both countries have some of the lowest vaccination rates in Western Europe, well behind countries such as Spain and Portugal.

Germany meanwhile reported more than 65,000 new cases on Thursday, with health officials warning that the true number of cases could be two to three times that high. Chancellor Angela Merkel said earlier this week that the latest wave of Covid has hit the country “in full force.”

– Chloe Taylor of CNBC contributed to this report.


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