In a savage attack on the European Union project, the leader of Les Patriotes blamed Brussels for France’s catastrophic decline for standard of living. Mr Philippot argued it was because of France’s membership to the bloc that the country has fallen from 5th place to 26th in just 46 years.
He blasted: “In 1975, France: 5th in the world for the standard of living per capita.
“Today: 26th row.
“But there are still ideologues to tell us that the EU and the euro are extraordinary successes!
“Frexit, independence, freedom, power, fast!”
France’s hospital system is under heavy pressure from the pandemic, with the number of people treated in intensive care units for COVID-19 at the highest in almost a year, even though the country has just entered its third lockdown.
The health ministry reported on Tuesday that the number of people in ICUs with COVID-19 had increased by 193 over 24 hours to 5,626, a peak since April 20, 2020, when France was in its first March-May 2020 lockdown.
And that figure is also rising further above the 4,919 high reached during country’s second lockdown from October 30 to December 15.
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The total number of people hospitalised with the disease rose by 732 over 24 hours, the sharpest daily increase for more than four months, to 30,639, breaching the 30,000 limit for the first time since November 24 and closing in on the November 16 record of 33,497.
France is hoping a ramp up of its vaccination campaign, combined with the one-month lockdown in place since last week-end, will help it regain control over the latest outbreak, fuelled by variants of the novel coronavirus.
Earlier on Tuesday, the country started administering shots of the COVID-19 vaccine inside the Stade de France, the national stadium that once hosted soccer’s World Cup final.
A little more than 9.5 million people, representing 14.2 percent of the French population, have received at least one jab of a COVID vaccine, putting the government on track to reach the 10 million milestone earlier than the mid-April target it had set itself.
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In comparison, the percentage of the population in Britain that has been given at least one dose of the vaccine stands at 47, according to Reuters data.
Overall, the EU has only inoculated about 10 percent of its population with one shot of the different COVID-19 vaccines available.
And only four percent of the population has received a full vaccination.
In addition to the bloc’s sluggish vaccination rollout, the suspension of the AstraZeneca jab for two weeks and the subsequent change of rules on the use of the Oxford vaccine, meant further delays to the EU’s strategy.
European Union health ministers will hold a meeting on Wednesday on vaccine rollouts after the EU drugs regulator announces its decision on the safety of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the EU presidency said.
Health Minister Marta Temido of Portugal, which holds the EU presidency, will host the meeting from 6pm “following the public announcement of the conclusions of the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee of EMA on the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” a spokeswoman for the Portuguese presidency wrote on Twitter.
EMA plans to announce its decision at 1400 GMT. Experts from the European drug authority have reviewed to what extent some cases of blood clotting in adults who had recently received the AstraZeneca vaccine may be linked to the injections.