France will not enforce a new lockdown for the time being to curb the spread of the coronavirus but it could soon impose an earlier curfew in eastern areas of the country, the worst-hit by infections, the health minister said on Tuesday.
"We're ruling out the idea of a lockdown for now, whether it be nationally or locally", Olivier Veran said on France 2 public TV channel.
"But we will propose an extension of the curfew that could start at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. in all the areas where it will be deemed necessary", Veran said.
France, which has the highest cases count in Western Europe and the fifth in the world at 2.57 million, has already been through two lockdowns, the first from March 17 to May 11 and the second from Oct 30 to Dec 15.
Since that date, the lockdown has been replaced by an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. national curfew, and, contrary to what was initially hoped for, cultural venues have remained closed because the daily new infections have not gone below the 5,000 target set by the government.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
French health authorities earlier reported 11,395 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, jumping above the 10,000 threshold for the first time in four days.
The seven-day moving average of new infections, which averages out weekly data reporting irregularities, stands at 11,871.
France, which began its gradual vaccination campaign on Sunday, also saw the number of persons hospitalised for the disease rise for the fourth day running, a sequence unseen since Nov. 13.