There is no need to close schools over the British variant, says French scientific adviser

The French government’s chief scientific adviser has said there is no need to close French classrooms, although he calls for new restrictive measures to stop the spread of the highly contagious “British variant” of the new coronavirus.

“We believe that English information on the variant is not definitive enough for us to recommend the closure of schools in France,” Jean-François Delfraissy, head of the Scientific Council that advised the government on the epidemic, told France Info radio on Wednesday.

Delfraissy said the variant first discovered in the UK accounted for an estimated 1% of new Covid-19 infections in France.

“The immediate challenge is not to eliminate it but to slow it down by taking a number of restrictive measures,” he added.

President Emmanuel Macron met with senior ministers on Wednesday morning to discuss a possible further tightening of measures.

A nationwide curfew can be imposed until 6 p.m. from 8 p.m., which has already happened in some parts of the east and southeast, French media reported. A third nationwide lock-in is considered less likely.

The French Ministry of Health reported 19,753 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours on Tuesday, up from Monday’s 3,582, while the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units continued to increase.

The number of deaths increased by 362 in hospitals in 24 hours at 68,802, the seventh highest in the world.

As it encrypts to contain the proliferation of new Covid-19 variants, the French government is also struggling to speed up its much-criticized rollout of vaccines.

A list published on Tuesday night showed that almost 190,000 people have been vaccinated as the country continues to lag behind such as Britain and Germany.

Opinion polls show that about half of the French population is skeptical of having a jab – their opposition is particularly high than in neighboring countries.

( Jowharwith REUTERS)