France has lowered the age of its mask mandate to 6-year-old children, officials announced Saturday. The news comes just days before schools reopen Monday, following the winter holiday break.
While the mandate requires children to wear masks in indoor public places, the mandate will also include outside locations in cities like Paris and Lyon where an outside mandate is already in place.
The wildly contagious omicron variant, French authorities said Saturday, has resulted in four consecutive days of over 200,000 new infections.
The chief executive of Britain's National Health Service Confederation told the BBC Saturday that the surge in COVID cases fueled by omicron may force hospitals to ban visitors.
"It's a last resort. But, when you're facing the kind of pressures the health service is going to be under for the next few weeks, this is the kind of thing managers have to do," Matthew Taylor said.
Europe has surpassed 100 million cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began nearly two years ago, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Worldwide, nearly 290 million cases have been recorded.
Nearly 5 million of Europe's cases were reported in the last seven days, with 17 of the 52 countries or territories that make up Europe setting single-day new case records thanks to the omicron variant, Agence France-Presse reported Saturday.
More than 1 million of those cases were reported in France, which has joined the U.S., India, Brazil, Britain and Russia to become the sixth country to confirm more than 10 million cases since the pandemic began, Reuters reported.
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center reported early Sunday that it has recorded 289.3 million global COVID cases and 5.4 million deaths.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and the Associated Press.