France’s plans to host the 2024 Olympic games successfully have been dented as the country struggles to emerge from months of strict lockdown. President Emmanuel Macron is expected to make a public address on Wednesday evening amid mounting pressure to take action against an imminent third wave of coronavirus. Meanwhile, tourism expert Vanguelis Panayotis has warned the French leader he needs to urgent boost the country’s economy and tourist ahead of the games.
He had opened to guide France out of the pandemic while allowing the economy to reopen open and begin on the long road to recovery.
However, in recent weeks the Kent variant, first detected in Britain, has swept across France and much of Europe leading to a spike in new cases.
The number of patients in intensive care breached 5,000 on Tuesday, the highest number this year and exceeding the peak hit during a six-week-long lockdown in the autumn.
Meanwhile across France, thousands of schools have had to end classes and send pupils home.
Virologist Dr Jean-Michel Pawlotsky told France Inter: “We have identified two mutations which are interesting: the 501Y mutation, which seems linked to in increased transmissibility of the virus.
“And another mutation in position 452, which has been suggested to potentially decrease sensitivity to the effect of vaccination.”
So far, there appear to be few cases of this variant, dubbed the Henri Mondor variant, but it is said to be spreading quickly.
Dr Pawlotsky told French media outlet LCI: “The appearance of a cluster in a neighbouring hospital to our hospital showed us that these four people have been infected by a new virus.”