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France’s Macron announces new Covid-19 clampdown amid surge in cases

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France is bracing for a potential new lockdown as President Emmanuel Macron gives a televised address Wednesday aimed at stopping a fast-rising tide of coronavirus patients in French hospitals. Watch his address live at 8pm Paris time (GMT+2).

Over the past few weeks, France has been reporting tens of thousands of new infections per day and is now recording more than 380 new cases each week per 100,000 people.

Health officials recorded 523 virus-related deaths in 24 hours Tuesday, the highest daily tally since April, bringing the country’s overall death toll to 35,541, the third-highest toll in Europe after Britain and Italy.

Many French doctors had been calling for a new nationwide lockdown, noting that 58 percent of the country’s intensive care units are now occupied by Covid-19 patients and medical staff are under increasing strain.

“The government didn’t take into account what the first wave was and didn’t learn all its lessons,” Frederic Valletoux, president of the French Hospital Federation, said Wednesday on France Inter radio.

He called for a full, month-long lockdown, saying “this wave will be much more devastating for the hospital system. Hospitals won’t manage if we don’t take drastic measures.”

Some French doctors, nurses with Covid-19 asked to work as country’s cases rise

The French government has been loath to impose a new lockdown that will pummel the economy even harder, and business chiefs have warned a total shutdown would force another wave of layoffs and bankruptcies.

Economists warn that a full lockdown could impact Europe more broadly if other European countries hit hard by rising infections then follow France’s lead.

Earlier on Wednesday, Germany announced a four-week shutdown of restaurants, bars and leisure facilities in a bid to curb a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, following similar measures in Italy and Spain.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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