France braces for possible lockdown as virus deaths rise


PARIS (AP) – France braces for a potential new lockdown as the president prepares a televised speech Wednesday aimed at stopping a growing tide of virus-infected patients filling French hospitals and a growing number of daily deaths.

French markets opened lower on expectations that President Emmanuel Macron will announce some sort of lockdown on Wednesday, although the government has not released details amid ongoing discussions about which measures would be most effective.

Many French doctors are calling for a new nationwide lockdown, noting that 58% of the country’s intensive care units are now occupied by COVID patients and that medical staff are under increasing pressure.

“The government did not take into account what the first wave was and did not learn all of its lessons,” Frédéric Valletoux, president of the French Hospital Federation, said on France-Inter radio on Wednesday.

He called for a full month-long lockdown, saying “this wave will be much more devastating for the hospital system. Hospitals will not be successful if we do not take drastic measures. “

Business owners and some politicians are pushing for a compromise, like local lockdowns in the hardest hit areas, or a lockdown that would allow schools to remain open.

Economists warn that a full lockdown could have a wider impact on Europe if other European countries hit hard by the rise in infections follow France’s lead.

France reported 523 virus-related deaths in 24 hours on Tuesday, the highest daily tally since April, bringing its overall death toll to 35,541, the third highest toll in Europe after Britain and Italy.

France has been reporting tens of thousands of new infections per day for weeks and now records more than 380 new cases each week per 100,000 people.


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