France will ‘probably’ need a lockdown, top coronavirus adviser says

France’s top COVID-19 expert said late Sunday that the country would “probably need to go into lockdown” as it is facing new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus.

“French people need to understand that mutations and variants — British, South African, Brazilian and now Californian — have completely changed the story over the past three weeks,” Jean-François Delfraissy, head of the scientific council created in March 2020 to advise the government on the pandemic, said on BFMTV.

A first quick study, which will be updated on Tuesday, showed that about 2 percent of COVID-19 cases could be attributed to these variants in France. “But in the meantime, smaller sets of data show that the British virus is closer to 7, 8, 9 percent in some regions, including the Paris region,” Delfraissy said.

The adviser added that the Irish and British experience showed intermediary measures are not sufficient against the new variants, but that the curve of cases “is starting to go down” thanks to stricter lockdowns.

France, which is currently under a national 6 p.m. curfew, is bracing for a third lockdown as multiple officials started to utter the word “confinement” over the past week. “If variants start to spread all over the place, we will take additional measures,” Health Minister Olivier Véran said in Le Parisien this Sunday, “and this means a lockdown.”

The French COVID-19 cases curve has been going up slightly for the past 10 days, with just above 20,000 daily cases on average.

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