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French Prime Minister Contracts COVID-19 Despite Full Vaccination

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Published: November 27, 2021
France's Prime Minister Jean Castex attends a session at the National Assembly in Paris, on Nov. 9, 2021.
France's Prime Minister Jean Castex attends a session at the National Assembly in Paris, on Nov. 9, 2021. (Image: THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The Prime Minister of France, Jean Castex, was recently found to have been infected with COVID-19 and is currently in quarantine. He had developed “slight symptoms,” including a “slight cough.” Castex had received two shots of the COVID-19 vaccine.

While returning from a trip to Belgium, Castex learned that his 11-year-old daughter was infected. He then took a test that turned out positive. After he reached France, Castex went into self-isolation. According to local reports, Castex is not feeling any health issues.

“Everything will be arranged in the coming days so that he can continue his activities while being in isolation” for the next ten days, the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

Many top French government officials had accompanied Castex on his trip to Belgium, including Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly, Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, Minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti, Secretary of State for Europe Clement Beaune, and several heads of intelligence agencies. Some of these ministers have tested negative for the virus. In Belgium, four ministers and Prime Minister Alexander de Croo, who had come into contact with Castex, are now in self-isolation.

The number of infections in France has been on the rise in recent weeks. Between Oct. 1 and Nov. 24, the number of new daily confirmed COVID-19 cases per million jumped from 75.80 to 322.66. More than 69 percent of the French population is fully vaccinated. Daily cases are now breaching the 30,000 mark.

The government has announced booster shots for all individuals. At a press conference, health minister Olivier Veran also revealed that the gap between the booster shot and the second shot will be reduced to five months; it was previously six months. France apparently has enough supply of vaccines to conduct a booster inoculation drive nationwide. If a person does not get a booster jab seven months after receiving the second vaccine, their COVID pass would be invalidated.

The COVID pass is necessary to access many indoor places like cafes, cinemas, restaurants, and cultural venues. The pass is also mandatory to travel on long-distance trains. The government has rejected imposing another lockdown despite rising cases.

According to President Emmanuel Macron, it is the success of the COVID health pass that prevents the government from imposing lockdowns. 

“Those countries locking down the non-vaccinated are those which have not put in place the [health] pass. Therefore, this step is not necessary in France,” Macron said in an interview with a local newspaper. France has registered over 7.4 million cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began. More than 118,734 people have died.