French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a face mask, gestures as he gives a speech about health research during a visit of the Necker Hospital in Paris, France December 4, 2020. Thomas Samson/Pool via REUTERS



The number of new COVID-19 infections per day in France is unlikely to fall to a 5,000 target by Dec. 15 as the population is not sufficiently respecting social distancing measures, one of France’s top coronavirus experts said on Monday.

Eric Caumes, head of infectious diseases at Paris hospital La Pitié-Salpêtrière, told LCI television that if the French are not cautious enough over Christmas and year-end holidays, it will lead to a third wave of the virus in mid-January.

President Emmanuel Macron has said the French lockdown that started on Oct. 30 could be lifted on Dec. 15, if by then the number of new infections per day has fallen to 5,000.

“No, I do not think this target can be reached as the trend downward stopped, it is stabilising. So it will be difficult to reach that target,” Caumes said.

French health authorities reported 11,022 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday, down from the 12,923 new infections detected the previous day.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, editing by Ed Osmond)