France considers partial lockdown for Nice region after spike in Covid cases
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France's Health Minister has said the city of Nice and the surrounding department of Alpes-Maritimes is facing a partial lockdown or an even stricter curfew, after a jump in the number of new coronavirus infections in recent days.
Olivier Véran said decisions about further tightening limits on people's movements would be taken over the weekend.
"There are a few cities and areas in France where the virus is circulating much more quickly than elsewhere and this may require regional confinement measures," the health minister said during a visit to a health centre in Nice.
The Alpes-Maritimes department has the highest rate of Covid-19 infection in metropolitan France, with around 600 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In Nice, the departmental capital, that rate rises to 751 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – three times the maximum alert threshold, with a positivity rate of 10.3 percent compared to 6 percent nationally.
"Around 500 people are falling ill from Covid-19 every day in Nice," Véran said. "I ask the police prefect to continue talks with all local officials so that by the end of the weekend we can decide additional measures to protect the population of Alpes-Maritimes. This could mean a stricter in the curfew or even a partial or total lockdown."
The French government has previously used local curfews and lockdowns in other areas but has generally preferred nationwide measures.
"If the government decides we need to go into partial lockdown, on weekends, for example, I will support it and encourage it," said Christian Estrosi, the conservative mayor of Nice, who accompanied Véran on his visit.
Following a second national lockdown in November, France imposed a nationwide 8pm curfew, which was tightened to 6pm in mid-January.
Véran said that the nationwide trend of coronavirus infections had worsened in recent days.
France reported 24,116 new infections on Friday, an increase of nearly 4,000 on the previous Friday. The seven-day average of new infections rose above 19,000 per day after falling to about 18,300 a week ago.
France also reported 571 new deaths from the virus, taking the cumulative death toll to nearly 84,000.
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