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

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that the next few weeks will be difficult as the country heads toward moderate New Year celebrations after registering 232,200 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, its highest total. never recorded.

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

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

Infections in France, one of the countries conducting widespread testing, was well above the count recorded in Italy and Britain, which also reported new records on Friday, with 144,243 and 106,122 cases, respectively.

In Paris, the traditional New Year’s Eve fireworks show centered on the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysées was canceled because city authorities said they feared it would lead to large crowds of people unable to observe social distancing. Dancing in hotel and nightclubs has also been prohibited.

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

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

He reiterated his call for mass vaccination, calling jabs the “safe” 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 we emerge from the pandemic. I want to believe that, ”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 limiting people’s individual freedoms.

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

( Jowhar and REUTERS)

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