French cabinet discusses Covid-19 measures as cases and hospitalizations rise

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                Le président français Emmanuel Macron a rencontré mardi de hauts ministres du cabinet pour discuter d'éventuelles mesures supplémentaires pour lutter contre la pandémie de coronavirus à la suite d'une augmentation du nombre de cas de Covid-19 et d'hospitalisations.  Le président français devrait prononcer mercredi un discours télévisé sur les moyens possibles d'endiguer une deuxième vague dans le pays.
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                                    <p>La réunion a eu lieu un jour après que les traitements de soins intensifs contre les coronavirus ont dépassé le sommet du 27 mai alors que la France, comme l'Espagne et la Grande-Bretagne voisines, se demande comment ralentir la propagation du virus et alléger la pression sur un système de santé à nouveau tendu tout en conservant ses 2,3 billions d'euros ( 2,71 trillions de dollars) économie ouverte et protection des emplois.

French government minister Marlène Schiappa said on Tuesday that the government could not rule out imposing a curfew on cities like Paris to curb the spread of the pandemic.

“Everything is under review. Nothing can be ruled out, ”Schiappa told LCI television, when asked about the possibility of imposing a curfew, after another minister also hinted that the government could take such a decision.

His statement echoed Prime Minister Jean Castex’s comments on Monday that local lockdowns across France could not be ruled out.

The Prime Minister’s remarks come as the cities of southern France, Toulouse and Montpellier, this week joined Paris, Marseille and four other cities on maximum alert to fight the coronavirus as the cases of Covid-19 in France hit a record high this weekend.

The Montpellier prefecture, in the south, announced a maximum alert status for the city and surrounding municipalities from Tuesday in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The measures include the closure of cafes and bars. The south-western city of Toulouse was also following meetings between the mayors of the surrounding cities and the prefect, the local state authority.

The surge in infections and the increase in hospitalizations placed four other cities on the high alert list on Saturday: Lyon, Grenoble and Saint-Étienne in the south-east and Lille in the north.

Major newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro reported that curfews in Covid-19 hotspots were an option, a possibility raised last month by the Scientific Council which had advised the government.

The number of people treated in French intensive care units for Covid-19 exceeded 1,500 on Monday for the first time since May 27, authorities said.

The new 1,539 number is still almost five times lower than the April 8 high of 7,148, but also four times higher than the July 31 low of 371.

Since there are normally more people hospitalized for different illnesses in the fall than in the spring, health experts fear the hospital system will be quickly overwhelmed if nothing is done to contain the coronavirus.

Macron is expected to give a televised speech Wednesday evening, a day after chairing a new health advocacy council to study ways to stem a second epidemic wave.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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