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France tightens local restrictions to curb coronavirus

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-09-24 10:42
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A health worker, wearing a protective suit and a face mask, prepares to administer a nasal swab to a patient at a testing site for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) installed in front of the city hall in Paris, France, Sept 2, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

PARIS - In France where daily coronavirus infections have been around 10,000 for more than one week, restrictive measures will be tightened in so-called "red zone" in accordance with local epidemic situation, Minister of Health Olivier Veran said on Wednesday.

"The virus spreading accelerates sharply. The situation continues to deteriorate... If we do not take measures quickly, we risk reaching critical thresholds in some regions," said Veran at a press conference following a cabinet meeting.

Taking the great Paris region as an example, the minister said that at the current rate, 40 percent of regional resuscitation capacities will be used for COVID-19 cases by Oct. 10 before rising to 60 percent by Oct. 25 and 85 percent by Nov. 11.

Since last Saturday, 53 departments in the country, where the COVID-19 incidence, or the number of positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a week, is greater than 50, have been classified as "zone of alert" or "red zone."

"In all of these territories, parties, weddings and associative events must be held in small groups, which means less than 30 people," said the minister, adding that local authorities can take all the necessary measures that they consider relevant.

In "zone of enhanced alert" where the incidence is above 150, now including Paris and eight other cities, starting from Saturday, bars will be closed at 10 p.m., limit of attendance to public events is cut from 5,000 to 1,000 and gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in public spaces such as beaches and parks, said the minister.

In Marseille and Guadeloupe, now "zone of maximum alert" as the incidence there has gone above 250, in addition to the measures envisaged for the enhanced alert zones, bars and restaurants will be totally closed, announced the minister.

"If, despite these measures, the health situation worsens further, these areas could go into a state of health emergency," he said.

In March, France went into a two-month national lockdown after the government declared state of health emergency.

"We are doing everything to avoid confinement measures," said Veran. "We are not in the situation of last spring. We do not envision widespread re-confinement and we do not want re-confinement in any form."

As of Wednesday, France had registered a cumulative total of 481,141 COVID-19 cases, including 13,072 in the last 24 hours. The death toll rose by 43 to a total of 31,459, according to official figures.

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