AstraZeneca: Macron ‘was wrong’ about vaccine says expert
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The French President was trending on Twitter on Friday and Saturday with the hashtag MacronDemission (Macron resignation) after refusing to announce new lockdown restrictions for the country. The number of patients with coronavirus in French intensive care units rose on Saturday to a new high for this year, increasing the pressure to impose new restrictions that President Macron now says will probably be needed.
France had 4,791 ICU patients being treated for COVID-19, up from 4,766 on Friday, health ministry data showed.
The numbers are approaching a peak recorded in mid-November during the second wave of the virus, although last spring, when France imposed its first lockdown, saw a peak of more than 7,000.
Doctors say intensive care units in the worst-hit regions could become overwhelmed.
The government’s commitment to keeping schools open has been called into question due to rising case numbers among students and opposition from teachers, who are threatening to walk out.
Spain said on Saturday it would require people arriving by land from France to show a negative coronavirus test result.
President Macron this week defended his decision not to impose a third full lockdown, but said further restrictions would probably be needed.
He said: “We were right not to implement a lockdown in France at the end of January because we didn’t have the explosion of cases that every model predicted.
“I have no mea culpa to make, no regrets. We were right to do that.”
Jumping on the trending hashtag, leader of Les Patriotes Florian Philippot also urged the President to step down but called for France to leave the EU before the next presidential elections.
He wrote: “#MacronDemission yes and quickly, very quickly!
“But so that he is not replaced by a clone, #Frexit essential, quickly!”
Three additional regions, including the Rhone department around Lyon, on Saturday joined other regions including Paris in closing non-essential stores and restricting travel.
Police were out in Paris, Nice and other cities enforcing the rules.
The government is also trying to speed up a stuttering vaccination campaign.
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France expects to receive 3 million doses of vaccines this week, rising to 4 million a week in a month’s time, junior industry minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Europe 1 radio.
Dr Mohamed El Hadi Djerad of the Pierre Beregovoy de Nevers Hospital in Burgundy told local broadcaster France-3: “We are at 100 percent occupation rate for nearly a month. We have stretched our capacities to the maximum.
“We are in a crisis situation.”
As of Saturday, more than 7.7 million people had received a first dose of vaccine, the health ministry said.
France’s COVID-19 death toll, at almost 95,000, is the eighth-highest in the world.
In stark contrast with the French President’s approach, German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted it was a “mistake” to announce new lockdown restrictions for a period of five days over the Easter break.
Ms Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states called on citizens to stay at home for five days over the Easter holidays, declaring April 1 and April 3 as extra “rest days”.
The measure would have meant all stores, including essential ones, closing for an extra day.
She said: “The idea of an Easter shutdown was drafted with the best of intentions. We urgently need to stop and reverse the third wave of the pandemic.”
But it was not possible to implement the hastily agreed measures so quickly.
Ms Merkel admitted: “This mistake is mine alone.”
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