Christmas could cause a third wave of COVID, French hospital director warns

A woman walks past a billboard featuring a Covid test, displayed outside a pharmacy in Paris, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. In France, which is in a monthlong partial lockdown to stop fast-rising virus hospitalizations and deaths, the health minister may announce tighter measures at a weekly press conference later Thursday. (AP Photo Michel Euler)
A woman walks past a billboard outside a pharmacy in Paris, France. (AP Photo)

Christmas could cause a third wave of coronavirus unless traditional celebrations are cancelled, the director of a French hospital has warned.

Julien Lenglet, head of the Antony Hospital in Paris, said celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve could lead to another surge in COVID-19 cases.

Last week, British prime minister Boris Johnson revealed that all four UK nations were working on plans to allow people to spend Christmas with their extended families.

He said people could have a “normal Christmas as possible” if they continue to follow the measures during England’s second lockdown, which he insists will end on 2 December.

However, Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said on Sunday that a planned meeting between leaders of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had not yet materialised.

Last month, former government science adviser Professor Neil Ferguson warned that “people will die” if social distancing measures are not reimposed over Christmas.

On Tuesday, health secretary Matt Hancock said he had asked the NHS and the military to be ready to deploy a COVID-19 vaccine by the beginning of December, following news that a Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is more than 90% effective.

Watch: Matt Hancock says UK has ‘huge’ vaccine rollout plan

On Monday, England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he was “hopeful” there would be “some vaccine by Christmas”.

In France, meanwhile, Lenglet told RMC Radio on Tuesday that Christmas and New Year could end up as a "giant, intergenerational cluster that could be at the origins of a potential new third wave" of COVID-19.

He said: "I would say, without any hesitation, that we ought to cancel Christmas.”

France entered a second national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus at the end of October.

It has the fourth-highest number of cases in the world, with more than 1.8 million.

Watch: The exceptions for going outside in lockdown

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