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France to impose stricter measures amid record Covid cases

Health minister expected to make an announcement today as a record 18,746 new cases are confirmed in the past 24 hours.

Health Minister Olivier Véran is scheduled to announce the details of the new measures at 18:00 today (Thursday October 8). They are likely to resemble the measures imposed in Paris - where bars are shut - and in the Bouches-du-Rhône, Mr Macron said.

He said: “The epidemic is continuing to rise. In areas where it is spreading too quickly, in particular where it is spreading a lot among older people, and where we are seeing more and more beds occupied in hospitals, we must impose more restrictions, such as those that we saw in the Bouches-du-Rhône and Paris and its surroundings.”

President Macron was speaking to news service France 2, from Breil-sur-Roya in the Alpes-Maritimes, in the aftermath of Storm Alex.

In response to a question about whether people should be discouraged from departing on holidays for the Toussaint weekend, Mr Macron did not explicitly tell people not to travel, but he added that the government strategy was to “encourage citizens’ responsibility”.

He said: “We are not, and for several months we will not be, in normal times. We must continue to strictly apply the rules, and to be each collectively responsible, and take care of ourselves, and of the most fragile [among us] and of our healthcare workers.”

Stricter measures in major cities

Mr Véran is expected to announce that several cities will be “on maximum alert”, including (although this is yet to be confirmed at the time of writing) Lille, Grenoble, Saint-Étienne and Lyon.

Read more: How do I find out the Covid measures where I live in France?

Already, head of emergencies at the CHU hospital in Lille, Dr Patrick Goldstein, has told news service FranceInfo that “the measures applied in Paris must be applied in the Lille metropolitan area”. 

He said: “All of the indicators are on ‘red’...we cannot stay in this state. Today, the situation in Lille is undeniably one of the worst in France. We are worried not only for the patients in intensive care, but also for the patients that need hospitalisation without intensive care...the number of beds available is sadly insufficient, putting the hospital under pressure.

“You have to call a spade, a spade. I am not pointing fingers at anyone, but what we feared is happening...a rise in young people linked to schools going back; to universities going back...barrier measures were not respected [so they are] spreading it to their parents and grand-parents. These are the people that we are seeing arrive in hospital.”

Dr Goldstein hit out at colleagues making “reassuring” statements, saying: “Everyone deserves to be heard, it’s a democratic country - but we are hearing some real nonsense.

“I would like to see some of my colleagues, who have nothing to do with intensive care, emergency medicine or virology, to come to spend two days with us in our services. It might change their minds.”


Record cases in past 24 hours

The expected harsher measures come as France announced 18,746 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours - a record number since the use of tests on a wide scale. A total of 80 new deaths were recorded, said health body Santé Publique France.

Hospital admissions also rose on Wednesday October 7 (yesterday), with 4,625 hospitalisations over the past seven days, and 919 people admitted to intensive care in the past week.

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