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France will begin offering adults a booster dose of COVID-19 from Saturday as a fifth wave of the virus intensifies.

Health Minister Olivier Véran made the announcement as cases, hospitalizations and deaths increase in France.

He said no new lockdowns or curfews were planned.

Véran, however, introduced an incentive to obtain a recall. Adults will need one by January 15 for their COVID health passes – which allow access to restaurants, bars and other indoor locations – to remain valid.

People over 65 should receive the third dose before December 15, the government had already announced.

A negative COVID-19 test will now only be valid for a health pass within 24 hours of taking it, added Véran.

Currently, the negative test could be used as a health pass for 72 hours.

From Friday, masks will be mandatory in all interior settings, even if a health pass is required for an event. Outdoor Christmas markets will also require masks, authorities said.

The government’s announcement comes as the number of cases has risen dramatically, with the country reporting 32,591 new cases on Wednesday, November 24.

The incidence rate has already climbed to nearly 200 new cases per 100,000, or four times that of the national alert level.

About 76.9% of the French population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which represents almost 88% of the population eligible for vaccination.

Véran said they would work to convince the millions of people who had chosen not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine yet, but also praised the high level of vaccination in France. They said it spared the country a fifth worst wave of infections.

French authorities noted that the COVID-19 vaccine reduced the risk of hospitalization by eight and the risk of being in intensive care by ten.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said school classes would no longer close in the event of COVID-19 but instead all students in a class would be tested. .

The European Medicines Agency recommended Thursday that the vaccination be available for children aged 5 to 11, Véran specifying that it would probably not be available for children before 2022 in France.

Authorities said vaccination would be “optional” for children once available.


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