In the 24 hours before the press conference, 45,641 people tested positive for Covid-19 in France.
The positivity rate, showing the number of positive tests out of all tests done in the past seven days, is 8%.
Mr Véran said: “The trend almost everywhere is for the epidemic to accelerate.”
Here are the measures he announced.
Beginning of vaccination for the 70 to 74 age group
Vaccination for all people aged 70 to 74 will begin on Saturday March 27 in France.
In this age group, people can be vaccinated in vaccination centers, by a general practitioner or in pharmacies.
Read more: Covid jab open to everyone over 70 in France from Saturday 27
A telephone network is also being set up to contact people over the age of 75 who have not yet received a vaccine.
Mr. Véran said that the telephone contact system, organized by the Health Insurance, would be “systematic” and that 3,000 people would work there.
Three additional departments to have stricter rules
Mr. Véran confirmed that the departments of Aube, Nièvre and Rhône will join 16 other departments already subject to stricter containment rules from March 27.
He said after consultation with local officials, it seemed “essential to strengthen protective measures” in the three departments.
Read more: Stricter Covid rules for three other French departments
The number of departments under “heightened surveillance” because of signs of the virus spreading has risen to 24, of which 16 have joined the list.
These are: Ain, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Ardennes, Indre-et-Loire, Isère, Jura, Loir-et-Cher, Loire, Lozère, Marne, Meuse, Orne, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Vaucluse and Yonne .
Mr Véran said the spread of the virus was still the most “worrying” in Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-France and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, which already have departments subject to stricter rules.
Outdoor meetings limited to 6
The “rule of six,” which previously applied to indoor gatherings, now applies to outdoor gatherings (with indoor gatherings against the rules in departments subject to more stringent measures).
The Minister of Health said: “Even though being outside reduces the risk, if you meet 15 people, you will inevitably lower your guard, remove your mask and increase the risk of getting infected.”
Speed up vaccination
In order to increase vaccination efforts, nurses, medical students, retired physicians, dentists and veterinarians will soon be allowed to administer Covid vaccines.
Mr. Véran said: “We need everyone.”
As France recently started preparations to open mass vaccination centers, the Minister of Health also declared that he was not against the idea of also opening driving vaccination centers.
He said, “Why not? I don’t know if we need it, but the sky’s the limit, so why not?
More than seven million people have now received a first dose of Covid vaccine in France.
Extra ICU beds in Ile-de-France
The number of intensive care beds in Ile-de-France for Covid-19 patients will be increased.
There are currently 1,400 beds occupied by Covid patients in the region.
The number of available beds will increase to 2,250, with 80% of other hospital activities being canceled to free up space.
Read more: Covid: Paris hospitals will have 600 additional ICU beds
Across France, Mr Véran said: “The pressure on hospitals, already high, will continue to increase in the coming days.”
There are currently 4,709 people in intensive care in France, including 408 admitted in the last 24 hours, according to figures from Public Health France on March 25.
No new, stricter restrictions … for the moment
The health minister said it was “too early” to measure the impact of the stricter rules put in place in 16 departments on March 20.
He justified the government’s decision to impose stricter rules rather than a complete lockdown, saying any measure had to be “acceptable” to people in France “exhausted by fighting without relief for a year”.
In a surprising reference to the novel 50 Shades of Gray (Fifty Shades of grey, in French), he described the stricter rules as “50 shades of measures that take into account the current epidemic situation and what we know about the virus” – rather than as a lockdown.
He also justified the decision to keep the schools open, saying closing them would be a “last resort, as it would have serious consequences”.
If the health situation worsened, the government “would wonder if [the rules] need to go further, ”he added.
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