Macron warns of ‘difficult’ weeks ahead but encourages ‘optimism’ in New Year’s speech

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French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday the next few weeks would be difficult as the country headed for moderate New Year’s celebrations after registering 232,200 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, its highest total never recorded.

“The coming weeks will be tough, we all know that,” Macron said in a speech broadcast on New Year’s Eve.

New Covid infections in the past 24 hours topped 200,000 for the third day in a row, making France one of the epicenters as a wave linked to the Omicron variant sweeps across Europe.

Infections in France, one of the countries carrying out large-scale testing, were well above the tally recorded in Italy and Britain, which also reported new records on Friday, with 144,243 and 106,122 respectively. case.

In Paris, the traditional New Year’s fireworks display centered on the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysées was canceled as city authorities said they feared it could lead to large crowds of people unable to observe social distancing. It is also forbidden to dance in reception areas and nightclubs.

Nonetheless, President Macron said he remained “optimistic” for the future.

“Despite the challenges we faced, France is stronger than two years ago,” he said, citing the measures the government introduced during the crisis, including unemployment reforms and various initiatives to protect purchasing power.

He reiterated his call for mass vaccination, calling the jabs a “foolproof” solution for France to overcome the current wave of Covid-19 and “maintain economic activity” while “avoiding taking measures that weigh on our freedoms “.

“2022 could be the year of the end of the pandemic. I want to believe it, “he said.

Macron did not mention the need for more restrictive health measures than those already announced, adding that the government should refrain from further restricting the individual freedoms of people.

He also declined to confirm in his remarks whether he would run for a second presidential term in 2022, as is widely expected. He will continue to serve France “whatever my role” after the April elections, he said.

(AXADLETM and REUTERS)

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