PARIS (Reuters) – France on Wednesday saw the biggest one-day jump in coronavirus cases since its second lockdown in November and the government has prepared to further tighten the limits on the movement of people.
The Department of Health reported 38,501 new infections, bringing the total during the pandemic to 4.15 million. The seven-day average of new cases has risen to over 26,000 per day.
The week-over-week increase was only 4.6%, compared to week-over-week increases of 20 to 30% between mid-October and mid-November.
Earlier today, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said tighter restrictions would be imposed in some areas, including Paris, from this weekend to counter an accelerated spread of infections.
The government is expected to detail the new restrictions on Thursday. They could take the form of partial closures such as the already imposed weekend closures – in addition to a nationwide nighttime curfew – along parts of the Mediterranean Riviera and parts of the north.
“We will take pragmatic and regionalized decisions,” President Emmanuel Macron told health workers during a visit to the hospital on Wednesday.
Despite the increase in the number of new cases, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) declined slightly, the first drop in nearly two weeks, falling from 20 to 4,219, according to ministry data of Health.
The government is closely monitoring the intensive care figures as they are the ultimate measure of France’s ability to cope with the crisis.
The Paris region, which had 1,177 people in intensive care on Tuesday, is under great pressure and has had to evacuate patients to another part of the country. The number of hospital deaths rose from 247 to 91,437 on Wednesday.
During the second nationwide lockdown in November, the number of people in intensive care peaked at 4,919 on November 16. During the first lockdown in March-April 2020, France had more than 5,000 people in intensive care units for 25 consecutive days, or more than 6,000 for 17 consecutive days, and a peak of more than 7,000 for nearly one week in early April 2020.