The daily tally was just below the record of 7,578 set on March 31, at the height of an initial wave of COVID-19 infections crippling Europe. The push has raised the possibility that the government will be forced to shut down the country again.
“We are doing everything to avoid another lockdown, and in particular a national lockdown,” President Emmanuel Macron told reporters on Friday. He added that it would be dangerous to rule out any scenario.
In a weekly review of the pandemic, the health ministry said the country was witnessing an “exponential increase in the transmission of the virus”.
Like other hard-hit western European countries, France imposed a sudden and strict lockdown in March, during which most residents were confined to their homes. The restrictions were gradually lifted from May 11 after a sharp drop in infections.
Authorities are now looking for ways to limit the spread of the disease without a new lockdown. On Friday, Parisians were ordered to wear masks at all times outside the capital.
The reopening of schools on Tuesday next week was widely anticipated as a big step backwards towards normality. More than 12 million children will return to school, most for the first time in more than five months.
So far, the rapid increase in the number of cases has not yet led to a similar increase in hospitalizations or deaths. The ministry reported 20 new deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the cumulative total to 30,596. The number of people hospitalized with the disease remained unchanged at 4,535 and the number in intensive care increased by 6 to 387.
Authorities say the virus is now spreading among young people who are less likely to show severe symptoms.
Two weeks after France’s lockdown ended on May 11, the number of new daily infections fell to 115 and 272 on a seven-day average. But as the country has gradually reopened restaurants, museums and shopping malls, the number of new infections has been confirmed. cases rose to around 500 per day by the end of June.
That number doubled to around 1,000 per day at the end of July, doubled again to around 2,000 in mid-August, and has passed 5,000 this week.
Report by Geert De Clercq; Edited by Peter Graff
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