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France's daily COVID-19 cases top 40,000, more regions under curfew

Published : 23 Oct 2020, 00:22

  DF News Desk

Policemen patrol after the curfews in Lille, northern France, Oct. 17, 2020. File Photo Xinhua.

France's Public Health Agency on Thursday evening reported 41,661 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, a new record after Saturday's 32,427, reported Xinhua.

The cumulative total infections now stand at 999,043, according to the agency. With a one-day increase of 162 deaths, 34,210 people have died from the virus-caused disease.

A total of 14,032 COVID-19 patients are in hospital, including 2,319 in intensive care. These two figures went up by 847 and 71 respectively in a day.

To stem the worsening resurgence of coronavirus which has been infecting some 30,000 additional people per day in recent weeks, the French government decided to introduce curfews in more regions on Thursday.

Prime Minister Jean Castex told the weekly briefing on sanitary situation on Thursday afternoon that starting from Friday midnight, curfews from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. will be extended to 38 more departments in France's mainland and an overseas territory, Polynesia.

"The situation is grave in France. The incidence rate was now 251 per 100,000 people over the last seven days, representing an increase of 40 percent," said the prime minister.

"The virus circulation is at an extremely high level. All age groups are affected, especially those over 65," he added.

Since Friday, curfews have been imposed on Paris region and other eight big urban areas. People are not allowed to go out except for essential trips such as work or health emergencies.

With more regions under curfew, 46 million of France's 67 million residents are now requested to stay indoors at night.

Extending the curfew was "a preventive measure" to cope with an accelerating virus, said the prime minister. "It's too early to know (its) effect."

"The coming weeks will be hard, our hospital services will be put under test and the number of deaths will continue to increase," he warned.

"If we fail to stop the pandemic, we will be facing a dire situation and we will have to envisage much tougher measures," he added.

As part of its strategy to combat the second wave epidemic, the government has ramped up testing capacity to 1.6 million tests per week without increasing delay to give results, said Health Minister Olivier Veran at the briefing.

He added that health authorities were able to provide 7,700 beds in intensive care units in two weeks without necessarily re-scheduling many operations. French hospitals can now offer 5,800 beds with ventilator.

Furthermore, a new contact-tracing app, "TousAntiCOVID," was launched on Thursday to alarm users when they come into contact with a COVID-19 carrier.

"If we are enough to activate it, this tool can be very useful. There must be millions of us doing that. This is an additional barrier gesture," said Minister for Digital Affairs Cedric O.

At the same press conference, Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot announced an 85-million-euro aid "to prevent the cultural sector from collapsing."

Apart from this package for theatres, concert halls and other live entertainment venues, a further 30 million euros will be allocated for cinemas.

"We need culture, maybe even more during this crisis," said the minister.