Europe

No More ‘Luxury of Half-Measures’: French Union Boss Calls for ‘Compulsory’ Steps to Tackle COVID

Late last month, French President Emmanuel Macron underscored that only a “massive vaccination campaign” would prevent a new wave of hospitalisations due to COVID-19 and allow the country to avoid a new lockdown.

Frederic Valletoux, the head of the Hospital Federation of France (FHF), has warned that a health pass alone will not be enough to curb another wave of the coronavirus, urging the government to make vaccination compulsory for everyone.

“We no longer have the luxury of taking half-measures. Everywhere, the indicators are going up again. The context of the epidemic shows us the limits of intermediate measures, Valletoux, who is also the mayor of Fontainebleau, told Le Journal du Dimanche on Saturday.

Referring to the “unprecedented speed of the fourth wave” of COVID infections, Valletoux said the government should “assume the course of compulsory [measures] along with voluntary [ones]”.

Protesters attend a demonstration called by the French nationalist party Les Patriotes (The Patriots) against France's restrictions to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, on the Droits de l'Homme (human rights) esplanade at the Trocadero Square in Paris, France, July 24, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
BENOIT TESSIER
Protesters attend a demonstration called by the French nationalist party “Les Patriotes” (The Patriots) against France’s restrictions to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, on the “Droits de l’Homme” (human rights) esplanade at the Trocadero Square in Paris, France, July 24, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

He added that the recently introduced health pass had “worked in the short term, but will not be enough to achieve real collective immunity”.

Valletoux spoke after French President Emmanuel Macron told healthcare workers at a hospital in Tahiti that avoiding vaccination was a demonstration of “irresponsibility”, adding that his message is “simple: get vaccinated”.

In July, the French president announced a series of new restrictions to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

Vials labelled COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine and a syringe are seen in front of the Pfizer logo in this illustration taken February 9, 2021

Starting in August, restaurants, bars, shopping centres, airplanes, and long-distance trains will require a special health pass indicating that a person has either been vaccinated or has a recent negative test result for COVID-19. In addition, vaccination will be made obligatory for healthcare workers.

Macron’s announcement was followed by around 160,000 people hitting the streets across France last week to protest COVID restrictions, actions that saw activists clashing with police forces in some cities.

This past Saturday, the country’s Interior Ministry said that about 204,000 people demonstrated in Paris and beyond against Macron’s COVID measures, with at least 3,000 police officers deployed in the French capital to grapple with the protests.

Last month, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal announced that France has entered a fourth wave of the coronavirus, adding that a major portion of the new cases are of the highly contagious Delta strain that “contaminates at lightning speed”, accounting for 80% of infections.

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