As the virus continues to spread rapidly, more than 8,000 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in France in just the last 24 hours.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex warned today that the country was seeing a “clear worsening” of the coronavirus pandemic but aimed to avoid a new nationwide lockdown that would severely damage the economy. In an eagerly-awaited statement after a meeting of ministers and health experts, Castex did not announce any new restrictions but promised more efficient testing and said it was up to local authorities to decide whether to impose additional measures.
The government is still deliberating whether to impose stricter measures to tackle a virus upsurge that is ravaging the country. While the latest figures from the French General Directorate of Health are higher than earlier in the week, the number of patients being admitted to intensive care units have actually declined.
Of the 8,577 new French cases, only 71 people were admitted to intensive care units, bringing the total number of ICU patients to 599. French President Emmanuel Macron says he wants the defence council meeting to show the way forward in the fight against the virus in the next couple of weeks. Macron only recently warned that he would consider a return to lockdown should cases not decline.
Against the background of an alarming upsurge in the number of infections, the government’s scientific council has already warned that the authorities are “going to be obliged to take a certain number of difficult decisions” over the next eight to ten days. Whether that includes a return to lockdown remains to be seen.
Castex addressed the country on Friday from his office, where he is self-isolating after spending Saturday with the director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, who later tested positive for coronavirus.