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French PM issues warning amid spike in virus cases

Paris: French Prime Minister Jean Castex has warned that France could impose further restrictions as the Coronavirus is spreading rapidly and the situation in hospitals is deteriorating in the country.

Speaking on French news broadcaster France Info on Monday, Castex said that there can be no more slackening to face the COVID-19 epidemic. Nine big cities, including Paris and Marseille, have been placed under maximum virus alert.

Castex called on French people to limit private gatherings in their homes. He said a general lockdown of the country must be avoided by all means. French health authorities reported about 43,000 new infections over the weekend.

The director of the Paris region public health agency, Aurelien Rousseau, said that COVID-19 patients now occupy more than 42% of ICU beds in the capital and its suburbs. Speaking on BFM TV, he said that the rate of positive tests reached 17% in the region.

France is one of Europe's hardest-hit countries, with at least 32,730 virus-related deaths.

Earlier, four French cities have joined Paris and Marseille in the maximum alert status to fight the spread of the Coronavirus, and it appeared likely that the list would soon grow as infections soar.

Bars shut down and other severe measures are ordered under maximum alert.

Lyon, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne in the southeast and Lille in the north moved to maximum alert on Saturday when health authorities reported nearly 26,900 new daily infections in 24 hours.

There were just under 5,000 new hospitalisations over the past week, with 928 of them in ICUs, and the positive rate for the increasing number of COVID-19 tests climbed to 11 per cent. Nearly 32,690 Coronavirus deaths have been counted in France, but the actual number is likely higher due to deaths at home and incomplete reporting from hospitals or rest


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