France To Speed Up Vaccination As List Of Highly Infected Areas Grows - Prime Minister

France to Speed Up Vaccination As List of Highly Infected Areas Grows - Prime Minister

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 05th March, 2021) French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday ordered that the national vaccination campaign must be accelerated amid the ongoing growth of the pandemic in the country, which has put three more of its departments on the list of areas under "enhanced surveillance."

"General mobilization: mayors, caregivers, hospitals - everyone needs to be on deck, including on weekends, to vaccinate as quickly as possible. We have entered a race against time against the epidemic and we need everyone to #Standtogether," Castex tweeted.

He added in a follow-up tweet that Hautes-Alpes, Aisne, and Aube departments have been added to the country's list of areas of concern over the epidemiological situation, as they have crossed "the threshold of 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants," bringing the total of such areas to 23.

The list, announced by the prime minister in late February, also includes the central Il-de-France region, where Paris is situated, and some departments comprising other major cities, such as Marseille in Bouches-du-Rhone, Nice in Alpes-Maritimes, Lille in Nord, and others.

Castex also noted that France was leading among other European nations regarding the inoculations of the elderly as one of the population groups most exposed to the virus risks.

In particular, over 80 percent of those living in nursing homes were administered first shots, and 60 percent have been vaccinated twice, the prime minister specified.

Besides, Castex went on, the choice to avoid another countrywide lockdown entailed the boost of testing and vaccination programs for the government and the maximum vigilance for the population.

Notably, Pas-de-Calais, one of the departments on high alert over the coronavirus has been put under a partial lockdown over the weekend, joining the cities of Nice and Dunkirk, where the measure has been in place since late February. In the meantime, a curfew remains in effect across the country.

France began the mass immunization program in late December 2020, using vaccines authorized by the EU, including these from Pfizer/BioNTeach, Moderna, and AstraZeneca. Castex stated the new goal to vaccinate up to 20 million people by the end of May. To date, over 3 million of the French were administered the first vaccine shots, and nearly 1.8 million received second jabs.

As of Thursday, France has reported nearly 3.9 million COVID-19 cases and more than 87.000 related fatalities.