France extends curfew to 46 million people amid rising COVID-19 cases

A waiter closes a bar terrace in Paris, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020.

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France has put at least 46 million of its residents under curfew in 54 departments and one overseas territory, government officials said.

Some 38 departments were added to the curfew from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am, after nine metropolitan areas were restricted last week in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“The situation is serious. It is serious in Europe, it is serious in France,” said Prime Minister Jean Castex at a press conference on Thursday.

“The health situation in our country has continued to degrade,” Castex said, explaining that the virus progressed 40% in one week. Cases are doubling every 15 days, Castex added.

He called on citizens to wear their masks, to wash their hands, and to respect a one-metre distance. He said it was a subject of “collective solidarity” to reduce social contacts.

“When we are not affected, we think we are untouchable,” Castex said. “No one can consider themselves safe from this, even young people.”

France has recorded a record number of daily cases in recent weeks, often surpassing 30,000 cases a day. That means, health minister Olivier Véran said, there are more than 1000 new cases every hour of the day and night.

The country has now logged nearly one million cases of COVID-19 and more than 34,000 deaths. Nearly 10,000 people are currently hospitalised in France with COVID-19. The test positivity rate in the country is over 13%.

In hospitals in Paris, patients that go into intensive care, 50% of whom are under the age of 65, can die or face difficult complications, officials explained.

The French government also launched a new version of their telephone application to help with the tracking of COVID-19 so that people with the application can be alerted if someone has tested positive.

The country has also increased their contact tracing initiatives, having restaurants keep contact information in case there is a COVID-19 case while people were dining.

It comes amid a second wave of COVID-19 in multiple European countries where many have counted record numbers of cases.

Germany, which had fared well in the first wave compared to its neighbours, recorded more than 10,000 cases in a single day on Thursday. Italy, which had been successful in keeping the incidence rate down, confirmed 16,000 cases in a single day on Thursday.

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