France’s health minister has said a nationwide halt on the flu is a “must”.
The Health Ministry said on Tuesday it would halt all flu vaccination campaigns in the country until further notice, as the virus spread across Europe.
The announcement came as the world’s second-largest economy and biggest economy in terms of economic output was hit by the French pandemic.
The French economy has grown by more than 4 per cent in the past year, according to the latest official figures.
The government said the ban would prevent “the spread of the virus and its associated illnesses” by limiting flu vaccination to people over the age of 60.
Health Minister Pierre-Henry Brandet said the move was necessary because there is a risk that “the virus could spread to other countries in Europe”.
But a group of doctors from France’s public health institute called for the ban to be lifted immediately, saying the pandemic had already caused the spread of flu to the rest of Europe.
“We have a clear and unequivocal obligation to act now in order to save the lives of French people,” they wrote in a letter to the French president.
“To the French people, the French government is responsible for the crisis that is engulfing our country.”
They also called for France to implement measures to prevent the spread and spread of new flu strains.
“The risk is clear, and it is unacceptable to allow the pandemics to occur in the next two weeks,” they said.
France has been hit by three waves of flu.
In February, the number of cases and deaths jumped by more then 90 per cent from February 2015.
France’s economy has been battered by a record number of job losses in the last 12 months.
France is also home to some of the world’ most vulnerable people, with a record 17.7 million people living with poverty in 2015.
The country is expected to have about 3.5 million people infected with the flu in 2017.
France currently has about 3 million people under a government-imposed “vaccination lockdown” due to the threat of flu infections.
But this has not been enforced for two weeks as the country’s Health Minister has been unable to find a doctor to administer the flu vaccine.
The ministry said it was also looking into other measures to address the spread.