France launches 400 investigations into fake Covid-19 health passes

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Paris; France; Covid-19
An anti-health pass demonstrator holds a French flag as he faces police officers outside the Constitutional Council in Paris

France has opened 400 investigations into networks providing fake Covid-19 health passes, the interior minister has said, as virus-related hospital admissions rise sharply across the country.

In recent days French media have covered the case of a woman with the virus who died in a Paris regional hospital after showing a false vaccine certificate. The hospital’s intensive care chief said they would have given the woman immediate antibody treatment had they known that she was not vaccinated.

Authorities have identified several thousand fake Covid-19 health passes in use around France, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Sunday on RTL radio. He said around 400 investigations had been opened into the peddling of fake passes, including some “connected to health professionals”.

He did not say how many people have been arrested so far, or provide details.

The French government is tightening rules on the passes, which are required to enter all restaurants and a growing number of events and venues. To get one, people must show proof of full vaccination, a negative virus test less than 24 hours old, or recent recovery from Covid-19.

With more confirmed infections one day last week than at any point in the pandemic, France is accelerating efforts to administer booster jabs in the hope that is enough to reduce pressure on hospitals.

Half of French intensive care units are occupied by virus patients, some regions are again delaying non-urgent surgeries, and more than 100 people with the virus are dying every day.

The government has closed nightclubs and tightened social distancing measures, but is trying to avoid a new lockdown. Health Minister Olivier Veran told the newspaper Le Parisien that while “the epidemic wave is violent”, there are signs the rise is starting to slow. He said 90% of people over 65 have had booster jabs so far.

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