Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, removes his face mask during a news conference.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images
France saw its Covid-19 infection rate hit a new record on Tuesday as the new highly-contagious omicron variant sweeps across the European continent.
The figure of 368,149 in the last 24 hours trumps a previous record of 332,252 set on Jan. 5.
Its seven-day moving average of cases was nearly 270,000 on Monday, according to Our World in Data, significantly above tallies in neighboring nations like the U.K.
France is about to implement a strict Covid passport system whereby citizens will need to be vaccinated before they can enter restaurant or indoor events, rather than being either vaccinated or registering a negative test.
President Emmanuel Macron sparked controversy last week after saying he would make life difficult for those citizens who refuse a Covid-19 vaccine.
“I am not for bothering the French. I rant all day at the administration when it blocks them. Well, there, the unvaccinated, I really want to hassle them. And so, we will continue to do it, until the end,” the French leader said in an interview with Le Parisien.
His comments coincided with parliamentary discussions over the Covid passes. Macron used the French word “emmerder” in his interview with Le Parisien, which can be roughly translated as “hassle” or “annoy,” or would be close to the phrase “piss off.”
More than 50% of Europe’s population will be infected with the omicron Covid-19 variant over the next two months, according to forecasts shared by a top World Health Organization official.
Dr. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s regional director for Europe, cited data from the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at a news briefing Tuesday, saying a new “West to East tidal wave” of omicron infections was sweeping across the region, on top of the previous delta variant which is still prevalent.
“It [omicron] is quickly becoming the dominant virus in Western Europe and is now spreading into the Balkans,” Kluge said. He added that the region saw more than 7 million infections in the first week of 2022, more than doubling over a two-week period.
—CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to this article.