Local measures against Covid-19 have been introduced in badly affected parts of France, with the health minister saying that the “epidemic is clearly stronger now than during previous waves”.
The government has warned of higher levels of the virus in the past few days, as the Delta variant continues to spread and daily cases rise.
In the last 24 hours (to July 18), there were 12,532 new cases confirmed, up from 10,949 on Saturday, July 17; and up from 4,256 on Friday, July 16.
The incidence rate (cases per 100,000 people) has risen above the minimum alert threshold of 50, in 37 departments.
Health Minister Olivier Véran told le Journal du Dimanche: “The epidemic is clearly stronger now than during previous waves.”
In a tweet, he wrote: "Vaccination saves lives, and is the way to end Covid-19."
La vaccination sauve des vies et sera le moyen d'en finir avec le #covid19. En France, dans 30 gros hôpitaux, 100 % des patients récemment admis en réanimation ne sont pas vaccinés et 93% de ceux admis en médecine ne sont pas vaccinés.— Olivier Véran (@olivierveran) July 13, 2021
Figures published on Sunday, July 18 show a slight rise in hospitalisations. The most recent figures for July 18 show that there were 6,936 patients in hospital due to Covid-19 – a rise of 14 since Saturday, July 17, but 247 fewer than last week.
There were nine new admissions to intensive care over the 24 hours to Sunday; and five new hospital deaths. This is in comparison to 16 deaths the Saturday before (July 9), and four the Sunday before (July 11).
Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal has warned that "the Delta variant is a game-changer because it is incredibly more contagious, more aggressive than the original strain of the virus".
In an interview with Le Parisien, he said that for the past few days, France has seen "a stratospheric increase in incidence". The incidence is the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
He said: “We have to be clear. Now, the options are either general vaccination or a viral tsunami. There is no alternative.”
He has said that the current situation is at a level “not seen since the beginning of the crisis”.
Several regions have imposed new measures in a bid to control the spread.
Masks are now once again mandatory outside in parts of some regions including Hauts-de-France, Normandy, and Occitanie.
In tourist areas in Pyrénées-Orientales, the prefect has announced that bars, restaurants and beach bars must close at 23:00 until August 2. People must also wear a mask outside in public places, except when on the beach.
The incidence rate in the department has risen sharply from 41.5 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants on July 9, to 258.8 seven days later. This is above the highest-level alert threshold of 200.
Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, has also said that he may re-impose mask-wearing in the coastal city.
Haute-Corse is also above this level (249.1). The number is also rising in the Alpes-Maritimes (133.6), and Charente-Maritime (109).