But France’s education minister says schools should open as usual on Jan. 3, and other government officials are working to avoid measures that would hammer the country’s economic recovery.

France has recorded more than 100,000 virus infections in a single day for the first time in the pandemic and COVID-19 hospitalizations have doubled over the past month, as the fast-spreading omicron variant complicates the French government’s efforts to stave off a new lockdown, AP reports.

More than 1 in 100 people in the Paris region have tested positive in the past week, according to the regional health service. Most new infections are linked to the omicron variant, which government experts predict will be dominant in France in the coming days. Omicron is already dominant in Britain, right across the Channel.

Meanwhile a surge in delta variant infections in recent months is pushing up hospital admissions in France, and put ICUs under strain again over the Christmas holidays. More than 1,000 people in France with the virus died over the past week, bringing the country’s overall death toll to more than 122,000.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government is holding emergency meetings Monday to discuss the next steps in tackling the virus. Some scientists and educators have urged delaying the post-holiday return to school, or suggested re-imposing a curfew.

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