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French PM outlines new virus measures amid spike in infections

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By Euronews
Pedestrians wear masks to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 as they walk past a store illuminated as part of Christmas lightings, in Paris, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.
Pedestrians wear masks to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 as they walk past a store illuminated as part of Christmas lightings, in Paris, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.   -   Copyright  Christophe Ena/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a series of new COVID-19 measures on Monday as the country grapples with a spike in infections.

"The virus is circulating on all the territory" and "pressure is rising in hospitals," Castex told reporters at a press conference.

According to figures released by the French public health agency, 12,096 COVID-19 patients were in hospital on Monday, including 2,191 in intensive care.

Cases in the country increased by 154% over the past two weeks, according to Our World in Data.

However, the "time has not come for curbs, curfews or lockdowns. It would be disproportionate," Castex said.

Nightclubs will close throughout the country for four weeks starting Friday, the prime minister told reporters.

The government is relying heavily on its COVID-19 vaccine campaign to tackle the fifth wave of the pandemic.

The prime minister said people aged 65 and above will be able to get their booster shots without an appointment. The government previously announced that booster shots will be required from mid-January for people to keep their health passes.

Children aged 5 to 11 with health conditions will be able to get vaccinated from mid-December. The government also wants to open vaccination to all 5 to 11 years old by the end of the year, pending approval of the national ethics council.

Castex furthermore encouraged companies to offer two to three days a week of remote work to their employees, "when possible."

Health protocols will be strengthened in schools, with masks set to become mandatory even outdoors.

Health Minister Olivier Véran told reporters that 25 cases of new variant Omicron were confirmed in the country.

"Omicron does not change our strategy," Véran said.