The high transmitting delta variant of COVID-19 virus is among the dominant strains circulating in France, accounting for 20% of new cases, according to the health minister.

“It accounts for 20% of the new cases… it is dominant because it is more contagious,” Olivier Veran told France Info on Tuesday while talking about the progression of the variant. Even though the circulation of the virus continues to decline and estimates of daily new cases are decreasing, the rate of detection of the variant has increased, he said. The new COVID-19 cases recorded in France are in the range of 500 presently.

The Delta variant, first identified in India, is estimated to be present in at least 85 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The rapid progression of the variant in the United Kingdom, despite a mass vaccination campaign, has derailed the full lifting of the lockdown.

Veran said France was closely watching the developments in the UK, where over 23,000 cases of the Delta variant were detected as of Monday. In France, cases related to the variant have been identified in the Landes department.

Veran urged for vigilance even as more than 50% of the adult population – 33,378 429 people have received at least one shot – in the country has been vaccinated. “If we are all vaccinated, it will not mean zero circulation of the virus, but it will mean zero health impact.” ​​​​​​​

He called for unvaccinated French people to get the shots urgently to prevent the resumption of a new wave of pandemic. He added, the government was considering offering a third booster shot to the elderly population in the nursing and care homes, by September to boost their immunity and offer protection in the face of rising variant cases.

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