France records more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus per day for the first time since May – but denies being in the middle of a second wave.
French health officials announced 1,377 new cases last night, bringing the seven-day average to 1,025, while Spain and Germany also saw alarming new peaks.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said France was seeing “warning signs” of hospitals with increased admissions, but insisted “we are not in a second wave of coronavirus” .
Several French cities have tightened their rules on face masks and some Atlantic beaches are subject to a nighttime curfew as cases continue to increase with 151 “clusters” currently under investigation.
France has seen its weekly number of coronavirus cases increase for four consecutive weeks, with the seven-day average now above 1,000 new cases
France typically records 10 to 20 coronavirus deaths per day and has recorded more than 30,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic
The French economy contracted a record 13.8% in the second quarter of 2020 due to the lockdown, official figures show today.
The second quarter figure means that the French economy has been declining for three consecutive quarters and continues to be in recession.
France’s contraction in the second quarter was much sharper than Germany’s record 10.1% drop.
However, France’s decline was better than its own mid-June forecast of a 17 percent drop.
The figures included a 46% drop in transportation and a 57% drop in the restaurant and hotel industry.
France is now trying to reopen its economy, but its citizens must avoid Catalonia in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading across the Spanish border, which is suffering its own alarming spike in cases.
Spain’s seven-day average rose to 2,181 cases per day, down from 1,615 last week and 828 the week before.
Britain ended summer vacation in Spain last week, dealing a heavy blow to the Mediterranean country’s economy.
Spain’s GDP fell 18.5% in the second quarter of 2020, and tourism is seen as key to restarting the economy.
Alexis Frick, research director at Euromonitor, said that over the past 15 years, British tourists have accounted for almost a quarter of all holiday visits to Spain.
A person wears a mask in Biarritz in southwestern France yesterday as regional leaders toughen their rules to stem an increase in cases
Germany has also sounded the alarm after an increase in cases across the country that took the R rate above 1.0 every day this week.
The seven-day average in Germany is 645 new cases, lower than in France or Spain, but significantly higher than 477 last week and 381 the week before.
Unlike mid-June, when a spike in cases was mainly due to a few small outbreaks, cases are on the rise in many of Germany’s 16 states.
Germany’s leading institute for diseases said there were “many small outbreaks of cases” related to leisure activities, family reunions and holidays abroad.
“A further worsening of the situation must be avoided. This will only be successful if the entire population continues to commit to reducing transmission, ”he says.
The daily death toll in Germany remains in single digits, although it has risen slightly from its lowest point in mid-July.
Italy also saw an increase in its weekly average, and yesterday’s figure of 386 new cases was the highest since mid-June.
“Unfortunately, the pandemic today is not completely over, even if its effects are more contained and geographically limited,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday.
Italy’s parliament on Wednesday gave the green light to extend the country’s state of emergency until October 15, after it was due to expire today.
Conte assured MPs the extension didn’t necessarily mean more lockdowns, after Italy became the first nation in the West to order its people to stay at home.
Opposition parties had clashed, accusing Conte of trying to keep too much power in his hands despite the crisis having eased considerably since March.
However, the upper house Senate passed the measure by 157 votes to 125 in the 319-seat chamber.
People are cooling off on a Barcelona beach yesterday. Britain now advises against non-essential travel to Spain and its islands
Several French cities announced new face mask requirements on Thursday as the number of new cases continues to rise.
Face masks are already required in all enclosed public spaces, including public transport.
In the Nord department adjacent to Belgium, the senior government official said “enhanced measures” would be announced on Friday, possibly making masks mandatory outside, in response to an increase in the number of cases across the border .
Belgium has recorded more than 400 cases several days over the past week, not having seen such large one-day jumps since June.
The mayor of Saint-Malo, whose walled city has attracted tens of thousands of French tourists who have chosen to stay in the country for the summer holidays, said masks were now mandatory inside the old town and on the ramparts.
“Masks are essential protection to limit the spread of the virus,” said Mayor Gilles Lurton, after the Ille-et-Vilaine region saw 44 new cases on Wednesday alone.
From Friday, masks will also be needed in the open-air markets of Orleans, in central France, and along the Loire, where crowds of people have gathered every evening.
The mayors of Bayonne and the neighboring Atlantic resort of Biarritz have also announced that masks will be mandatory in their city centers from next week.
Biarritz will also prohibit access to its beaches at night to prevent parties from being organized there.