“Never before in our history has a crisis of this magnitude been fought so democratically,” Macron said at the start of a virtual defense cabinet meeting broadcast on French television. The president lambasted opponents, without naming them, for having exploited the pandemic “to gain political market share”.
Macron’s comments follow a fourth consecutive weekend of protests in major French cities against new measures that make access to restaurants, museums and virtually all activities conditional on proof of vaccination or a negative test recent. People’s status is displayed in a so-called health pass, or vaccination passport, which the government says is the only way to return to normal life.
While some protesters claim the measures are dictatorial, there has been a surge in vaccine uptake since their announcement in July. Two-thirds of French people aged 12 and over are now fully vaccinated, according to government data.
While vaccination rates are high in France, many French overseas territories are seeing infections skyrocket as vaccination remains low and the more contagious delta variant spreads rapidly.
The fact that only around 20% of people aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated in the West Indies, compared to nearly 66% in France, is “cruel proof” that jabs are the most effective tool against Covid-19, Macron said.
As he noted a slowdown in the number of people making vaccination appointments in recent days, the president insisted he wanted to “at least meet” a target of 50 million first injections by now. in late August, up from 45.3 million people who have had less than one dose so far.
“Today, we are therefore faced with a situation, particularly in Guadeloupe and Martinique, which is dramatic,” said the president, adding that hospitals are already saturated in the two overseas territories.
At least 100 intensive care beds are needed for Guadeloupe alone, Overseas Minister Sébastien Lecornu said on Tuesday. Macron said 231 health workers and 70 firefighters traveled from France to the West Indies on Tuesday to help.
“The health crisis is not behind us,” Macron said. “It is very clear that we will be living with this virus for several more months. “
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