France extends coronavirus curfew to 46 million people as daily infections hit record levels

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France on Thursday extended the anti-COVID curfew in place in nine cities across large parts of the country, bringing the number of people forced to stay indoors overnight to 46 million.Paris and eight other French cities were placed under curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. last weekend as new daily infections reached record levels.

At midnight (9 a.m. AEDT) on Friday, the restrictions will be extended to 38 other departments and French Polynesia for six weeks, bringing the figures concerned to around two-thirds of the French population, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced.

“The health situation in our country continues to deteriorate,” Castex said, adding that “the coming weeks will be difficult and our hospitals will be strained”.

After a first wave in the spring that killed more than 30,000 people, France, like several European countries, is struggling with a second episode of coronavirus infections.

The number of confirmed cases per 100,000 population rose 40% in one week to 251 per 100,000 population, Mr Castex said.

More than 34,000 people have died in total and the number of intensive care patients is at its highest level since May.

French designer Christophe Gernigon (R) tries out his invention of a plexiglass bubble that surrounds customers to protect them from Covid-19 in Paris, France.EPA

Mr Castex warned that if France, which has recorded nearly a million cases (957421 Wednesday) since the start of the pandemic, does not collectively succeed in stemming the epidemic, we will be faced with a dramatic situation and will have to consider a lot more hardness. measures. ”

He declined to question whether that could mean the whole country would be placed under a second lockdown on the eve of the Christmas holidays.

The government also unveiled a new COVID tracking app to replace a first app that turned out to be a flop downloaded by just 2.6 million people.

The nearly week-long curfew in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and other major cities has forced bars, restaurants, theaters and other venues that had already suffered huge losses in a two-month lockdown. early to close early, leaving many fights to survive.

The latest restrictions have been largely observed. Mr Castex said police issued 4,777 fines.

Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot on Thursday announced aid of 85 million euros (($ 141.2 million) for theaters, concert halls and other places of live entertainment, as well as 30 million euros. additional euros ($ 49.9 million) for cinemas).

“Everyone needs culture, maybe even more so during this crisis which has affected our ability to come together,” she said.

Meanwhile, Spain became the first country in the European Union to record one million coronavirus infections, official data showed on Wednesday.

Spain, with a population of around 47 million, is only the sixth country in the world to take this grim milestone after the United States, India, Brazil, Russia and Argentina, according to a count AFP based on official figures.

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