Paris (AFP)

A new containment "would probably become an absolute necessity" if the circulation of the English variant of the coronavirus increased "significantly" in France, warned the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran on Thursday.

"If the share of (this) variant were to increase significantly and we were to follow an English path, containment would probably become an absolute necessity," Véran told the Senate Law Commission.

"The spread of the variant of English origin on French territory can be a determining element in the strategies to fight against the epidemic that we could deploy in the coming days and the coming weeks", continued the minister, heard in the framework of the bill on the extension of the state of health emergency.

"When I speak of a race against time, I weigh my words. (...) It is a determining factor for the days, the weeks and the months to come, and I also speak in days", a- he insisted.

In France, this variant represents at this stage around 1.4% of the total daily Covid-19 contamination, as shown by a recent survey carried out on all positive PCR tests.

Initially spotted in England, this more contagious variant worries the international community.

Even if it does not seem intrinsically more dangerous than the classic coronavirus, it risks posing a major problem: more infected people, it is more patients who end up in hospital, with an increased risk of the system being overwhelmed. .

The United Kingdom is currently facing serious difficulties in its hospitals, and recorded 1,820 more deaths on Wednesday, a new daily record.

"This will continue because what we are seeing is the result of the new variant," warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Other variants, including one initially detected in South Africa, are also worrying the international community.

In addition to being more transmissible, like the English variant, they seem to risk compromising the effectiveness of vaccines.

© 2021 AFP