Bars to close in more French cities as Covid cases top 18,000 for second day
The cities of Lyon, Lille, Grenoble and Saint-Étienne are to go on maximum coronavirus alert from Saturday, the French health minister has announced, as the scientific council says France can no longer rule out local lockdowns.
Local bars and cafés are set to close in four more French cities from Saturday, joining Paris, Marseille and the overseas territory of Guadeloupe which were recently put on maximum alert.
In the daily health briefing late Thursday, Health minister Olivier Véran added that the situation in Toulouse and Montpellier was worrying and that those cities could also be moved to the maximum Covid-19 alert level starting early next week.
"The health situation in France, alas, is continuing to worsen," he said. "Every day in France, more and more people are being infected, more and more are falling ill, and more and more are suffering serious effects that require hospitalisation."
#COVID19 | Dans les métropoles de Lille, Grenoble, Lyon et Saint-Étienne, les seuils conduisant au passage en zone d’alerte maximale ont été dépassés.— Olivier Véran (@olivierveran) October 8, 2020
Les mesures de réduction de la circulation du virus correspondant aux zones d’alerte maximale seront déclenchées samedi matin. pic.twitter.com/3DRSam4ExB
Meanwhile Jean-François Delfraissy, head of France's Scientific Council, said Friday that local lockdowns could no longer be ruled out and that the French would have to live with the virus until next summer.
"We must do everything to avoid local lockdowns, but if necessary, we'll have to do it," he told BFM TV, citing intermediate measures such as curfews.
Paris hospitals in 'emergency mode'
Véran’s announcement came shortly after officials reported 18,129 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, with the daily tally staying above 18,000 for the second day running after Wednesday’s all-time high of 18,746.
More than 1,400 patients are in intensive care.
The health minister urged the public to help fight the virus by wearing face masks and keeping a safe distance from others, even at home where there has been a concerning increase in the number of young people infecting older, more vulnerable family members.
Meanwhile, hospitals in the Paris region moved into emergency mode on Thursday, cancelling staff holidays and postponing non-essential operations, as coronavirus patients made up close to half of all patients in intensive care units (ICUs).
The number of people in hospital for Covid-19 stood at a three-month high of 7,624 on a national level, an increase of 88 over 24 hours. That total is still lower than an April 14 peak of 32,292 but up versus a 29 August low of 4,530.
There were 11 more patients in ICUs for the disease, making a tally of 1,427, almost four times higher than a 31 July low of 371.
The number of people in France who have died from Covid-19 rose by 76, a figure higher than the seven-day moving average of 73, and now stands at 32,521.
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