Delta variant to account for most new French COVID cases from this weekend - minister

French PM Castex holds news conference on COVID-19 strategy, Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - The highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 will probably account for most new coronavirus cases in France from this weekend, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Friday.

Veran, who has said a fourth wave of infections could hit France as early as end-July and is urging as many French people as possible to get vaccinated, told France Inter radio the Delta variant now represents nearly 50% of new COVID-19 infections.

Senior ministers will meet on Monday to discuss the threat of a fourth wave and the government has said it is considering all possible scenarios, including possible compulsory vaccination for health workers.

Veran, who met health workers' representatives earlier this week, told France Inter a consensus was building in the country for making vaccination for health workers compulsory, though no decision had yet been taken.

The government's top scientific advisory body during the COVID crisis also now backs making vaccinations for health workers compulsory.

From a seven-day average of more than 42,000 new infections per day in mid-April, the infection rate had plunged to just over 1,800 at the end of June.

But since then the trend has reversed, and the number of daily new cases is now back above 4,000.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Writing by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Gareth Jones)