Paris: France has recorded more than 100,000 virus infections in a single day for the first time since the pandemic struck, and COVID-19 hospitalisations have doubled over the past month as the fast-spreading omicron variant complicates the government's efforts to stave off a new lockdown.
More than 1 person in 100 in the Paris region has tested positive in the past week, according to the regional health service.
Most new infections are linked to the omicron variant, which government experts predict will be dominant in France in the coming days.
Meanwhile, a surge in delta variant infections in recent months is pushing up hospital admissions.
More than 1,000 people in France with the virus died over the past week, bringing the overall death toll to more than 122,000.
The government is holding emergency meetings Monday to discuss the next steps.
Some scientists and educators have urged delaying the post-holiday return to school or re-imposing a curfew.
But the education minister says schools should open as usual on January 3, and other government officials are working to avoid measures that would hammer the economic recovery.
Instead, the government is hoping that stepped-up vaccinations will be enough.
The government is pushing a draft law that would require vaccination to enter all restaurants and many public venues, instead of the current health pass system which allows people to produce a negative test or proof of recovery if they're not vaccinated.