Warning against a possible resurgence of the virus, France excludes another “total lockout”

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                Le gouvernement français a averti mercredi qu'une flambée des cas de coronavirus dans les mois à venir restait une possibilité distincte, bien qu'il ait exclu un autre verrouillage national qui paralyserait davantage l'économie du pays.
            

"Mon objectif est de préparer la France à une éventuelle deuxième vague tout en préservant notre quotidien, notre vie économique et sociale", a déclaré Jean Castex, le nouveau Premier ministre, dans une interview à la télévision RTL.

“But we are not going to impose a foreclosure like the one we did last March, because we have learned … that the economic and human consequences of a total foreclosure are disastrous,” he said.

Instead, business closings or home orders would be “targeted” on specific areas, added Castex.

“The coronavirus is still there,” he warned, adding that he would travel to South American territory in French Guiana on Sunday, who was shocked by a wave of Covid-19 cases.

Authorities reported 124 new cases in the country on Tuesday, bringing the total to nearly 5,200, and the government sent dozens of health workers from the mainland as well as a field hospital.

Uptick in cases

In France, the number of new coronavirus cases and deaths reported on Wednesday was higher than the daily average seen last week.

Confirmed Covid-19 cases increased by 663, up from 475 on Tuesday and a daily average of 536 in the past seven days. In June, this average was 435, in May at 715 and in April at 2,582.

Meanwhile, the death toll rose by 32 from the previous day to 29,965. This figure is almost double the daily average of 18 seen in the past seven days. In June, France had an average of 34 additional deaths every day, in May 143 and in April 695.

The head of the French national health agency, Jérôme Salomon, said that the authorities were planning a second wave of cases “this fall or this winter”, depending on a seasonal impact which remains uncertain.

“What we have to understand is that the resurgence of the epidemic will essentially depend on our behavior,” he said in an interview with the Figaro newspaper.

As millions of people prepare to relax during the summer, Solomon urged social distancing and the use of face masks, “especially in crowded places and indoors.”

Paris authorities have said the capital will host its traditional fireworks display from the Eiffel Tower on July 14, a national holiday, but that the event will be closed to the public.

“Protect people”

Castex was appointed by President Emmanuel Macron last week to lead a new government to orchestrate the country’s recovery from its worst health and economic crisis since the Second World War.

Billions of euros have been pledged for investments as well as measures to limit job losses in an economy that is expected to decline by around 10% this year.

“We will protect people, but above all we will invest in ecological transformation, in reviving our country,” said Castex.

He confirmed that he had raised a proposal to raise salaries and budget increases for hospital staff by around one billion euros during talks with unions this week, bringing the total envelope to 7.5 billion euros (8.5 billion dollars).

But union leaders say it would only increase the monthly salary of nurses, technicians and others on the front line in the fight against coronaviruses by 180 euros per month, far from their demands for an increase of 300 euros.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

            

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