© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: “Beauvau de la Securite” in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) – French Prime Minister Jean Castex said that the coronavirus situation in France remained fragile but that for the moment there was no need for a new national lockdown.

Castex said that the rate of infection had not significantly strengthened over the past two weeks, even if the pressure on French hospitals remained strong.

“We must stick with the current restrictions we already have in place … but the situation today does not justify a new national lockdown,” he told a news conference on Thursday.

Castex said it was true that other countries had started their vaccination campaign more quickly than France but that this was the result of the French government’s choice to start with the most vulnerable people in retirement homes.

He said that while they only made up one percent of the population, they represent one third of those who have died from COVID-19. France has registered more than 77,000 deaths from COVID-19 since the start of the epidemic.

Castex also said that the number of new cases affected by new variants of the virus has increased from 3.3% on Jan. 8 to 14% today.

“We must fight the virus by applying the measures in place … it is not the time to ease up now,” he said, adding that he would not hesitate to tighten curbs on movement if there was a spike in infections.

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