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).
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.”
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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)