French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said he "fully stands by" the controversial remarks he made earlier in the week in which he said he wanted to "piss off" the five million French people who are still not vaccinated against COVID-19, Reuters reported.
"I stand by my earlier comments," said Macron. He added it was the authorities' obligation to place restrictions against those who are not vaccinated, to protect the more than 90% of French citizens who are vaccinated, the report added.
Earlier, the French President Emmanuel Macron was accused of using divisive, vulgar language. He provoked outcries in parliament and protests from election rivals by using vulgarity to describe his strategy for pressuring vaccine refusers to get coronavirus jabs.
"I really want to piss them off, and we'll carry on doing this - to the end," Le Parisien quoted the French leader as saying in a sit-down interview at the presidential Elysee Palace with a panel of its readers.
Meanwhile, more than 20,000 people are hospitalised with COVID-19 in France, a number that has been rising steadily for weeks but not as sharply as the country's infection rates.
COVID-19 patients fill more than 72 per cent of France's intensive care unit ICU beds, and its once-renowned health care system is again showing signs of strain. Most virus patients in ICUs are not vaccinated against the coronavirus, though 77 per cent of the French population has had at least two doses.
(With AP inputs)