French authorities have placed seven other departments covering major cities such as Lille, Strasbourg and Dijon on alert as the rise in COVID-19 infections accelerates, the government said on Sunday.
Of the 101 French metropolitan and overseas departments, 28 are now considered “red zones” where the authorities can impose exceptional measures to slow the number of new cases of coronavirus.
The move comes as France reported a record high of nearly 9,000 daily cases on Friday, and 8,550 more cases in the past 24 hours on Saturday, when the nationwide test positivity rate rose to 4.7 %.
Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhône department encompassing the south-eastern city of Lyon were the first to be placed on high alert by the government on August 14 after infection rates began to climb.
This prompted local authorities to require face masks in all public spaces to slow the spread of the virus, hoping to avoid a spike in cases that could again overwhelm hospitals as fall approaches. .
The health agency Santé Publique France, which has warned of “exponential” increases in the workload, said on Saturday that 53 new clusters of epidemics had been discovered in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number under investigation at 484.
Twelve other deaths from COVID-19 have been reported, for an overall toll of 30,698 since the pandemic last March.
Concerns about the risk of infection have already prompted authorities to close 22 schools after cases were detected just days after students returned from summer break last week, and dozens of individual lessons have also been suspended. .
And in the southwestern region of Aveyron, officials announced that a retirement home for the elderly of 43 residents and 11 staff had tested positive for the virus, with two elderly people in hospital.
The Council of State, the highest administrative jurisdiction in France, has meanwhile slightly modified the ordinances imposing the wearing of masks in several towns in the eastern region of Bas-Rhin, including Strasbourg, and in the south-eastern region of Rhône covering Lyon.
He accepted the Health Ministry’s arguments that city-wide masks orders were reasonable, but ordered less restrictive measures in less built-up areas of Bas-Rhin – and in the Rhône , changes in ordinances to allow the practice of sport.
On Sunday, the government said preschool teachers as well as those with deaf students would soon receive clear masks to aid understanding at a crucial educational stage for young children.
“More than 100,000 of these masks will be produced by the end of this month,” said Secretary of State for the Disabled, Sophie Cluzel, to the Journal du Dimanche.
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© 2020 AFP
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