For the first time since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, France has seen more than 200,000 new cases in a 24-hour period, health officials said Wednesday.
Speaking to the National Assembly, French health minister Olivier Veran said there were about 208,000 new infections over the course of the previous day.
That’s equivalent to two people in the country testing positive every second, he noted.
The daily figure is the highest for both France and Europe since the pandemic began two years ago.
Veran said the rapid growth in cases is a threat to capacity in French hospitals, and said the spread of the Omicron variant is a groundswell.
He also said that more than 10 percent of the French population have been exposed to the virus and estimated that France could reach 250,000 cases per day by early January.
The French government on Wednesday said nightclubs would remain closed for another three weeks in January. Prime Minister Jean Castex has also ordered a curfew for New Year’s Eve on Friday.
Officials also shortened the public’s timetable for getting booster vaccinations, from four months after their previous dose to three.
France officials are seeking to implement a “vaccine pass” by mid-January, which will require proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, bars and other public areas.