France investigates thousands of fake Covid-19 health passes

French minister says some of the passes were connected to health professionals

Security personnel check a Covid-19 health pass for entry to a Christmas market in Strasbourg, eastern France, on December 3. AP

Live updates: follow the latest news on Covid-19 variant Omicron

France has opened 400 investigations into networks providing fake Covid-19 health passes, the Interior Minister said Sunday, as people needing hospital treatment for virus-related symptoms rise sharply across the country.

A woman with the coronavirus died in a Paris regional hospital after showing a false vaccine certificate.

The hospital’s intensive care chief said the woman would have been given immediate antibody treatment had it been known that she was not vaccinated.

Authorities have identified several thousand fake Covid-19 health passes in use around France, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Sunday.

Mr Darmanin said about 400 investigations have been opened into the sale of fake passes. He did not say how many people had been arrested so far.

The government is tightening rules on the passes, which are required to enter all restaurants and a growing number of events and venues.

To receive one, people must show proof of full vaccination, a negative virus test result that is less than 24 hours old, or recent recovery from Covid-19.

With more confirmed infections one day last week than at any point in the pandemic, France is accelerating booster shots in hopes that it will reduce pressure on hospitals.

Half of French intensive care units are occupied by virus patients, some regions are again delaying non-urgent operations, and more than 100 people with the virus are dying every day.

The government closed nightclubs and tightened social-distancing measures, but is trying to avoid a new lockdown.

Health Minister Olivier Veran told newspaper Le Parisien that while “the epidemic wave is violent", there are signs that the rise is starting to slow.

Mr Veran said 90 per cent of people aged over 65 have had booster shots so far.

Updated: December 13th 2021, 12:09 AM