France under Partial Lockdown for Month, Paris Hospitals Overwhelmed

Society | March 19, 2021, Friday // 10:46
Bulgaria: France under Partial Lockdown for Month, Paris Hospitals Overwhelmed

French PM Jean Castex announced on Thursday a month-long limited lockdown for Paris and other regions of the country starting Friday as the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units spikes, FRANCE 24 reported. The new restrictions will be imposed on 16 regions, including the Paris area.

Schools and essential shops, including bookstores, will remain open. The movement outside will be restricted in the affected regions, but the outdoor exercise will be allowed up to 10 kilometres from home, Castex said. The curfew will also be reduced, starting at 7pm from Friday.

The progression of the Covid-19 epidemic in France is clearly accelerating, Castex said. "More and more this is looking like a third wave," he told the news conference.

The announcement falls on the week of the one-year anniversary of France’s first nationwide lockdown. President Emmanuel Macron made the announcement on 16 March and the lockdown went into effect at midday on 17 March, 2020, and ended 55 days later on 10 May.

France's second lockdown in November spared schools, although France never did achieve President Emmanuel Macron’s goal  of bringing new infections down to under 5,000 per day, with the numbers plateauing before beginning to rise again in 2021. On 16 January, France introduced a 6pm curfew that was initially planned for 15 days but is still ongoing.

With 4.11m people infected since the start of the outbreak, France has the sixth-highest case count in the world. More than 91,000 people have died in the country from the disease, according to an official count.

Macron had strongly argued against a third national lockdown, preferring instead to enforce local restrictions to try to slow the spread of the virus and rising numbers of the more contagious British variant.

"Let's be clear, we're in a third wave mostly down to the rise of this famous British variant," Macron said late Wednesday after a day of talks with medical staff and local mayors in the Paris region. "The situation is critical. It's going to be very hard until mid-April."

National figures for daily infections had remained steady at around 20,000 a day in February, but new cases have risen 20 percent in the last week alone.

On Thursday, around 38,000 new infections were reported – the highest level in four months – as Paris hospitals overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases began transferring patients to other regions.


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