French Prime Minister Jean Castex is expected to announce new coronavirus restrictions on Thursday, including a potential shutdown in the Paris region and in the north of the country, as the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units increases.
The French capital faced new restrictions on Thursday after a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections that have overwhelmed hospitals and forced the government to consider a very resilient new lock.
President Emmanuel Macron has strongly argued against a third national suspension and instead prefers to implement local restrictions to try to slow down the spread of the virus and increasing numbers in the more contagious British variant.
“Let us be clear, we are in a third wave mainly down to the emergence of this famous British variant,” Macron said late Wednesday after a day of talks with medical staff and local mayors in the Paris region. “The situation is critical. It will be very difficult until mid-April.”
The other two Covid-19 hotspots in France – around the southern Mediterranean city of Nice and the northern region surrounding Calais – have been locked over the weekend since late February and early March, respectively.
Castex, who will speak at 19.00 (1800 GMT), said on Tuesday that the same restrictions were “on the table” for Paris.
But restricting people to their homes in Paris, the country’s economic and political heartland known for its dense housing, has raised concerns about more mental health effects and even violence.
“Limiting the region is not an easy decision. It has major consequences for its inhabitants,” an unnamed minister told Le Parisien newspaper.
The handling of the health crisis also has consequences for Macron, just 12 months from a presidential election and with opponents breaking his record.
The 43-year-old head of state resisted pressure to order a third national shutdown in late January, as most of France’s neighbors, including Britain and Germany, closed schools and closed.
Macron claimed that the situation was stable in France, which is already under a 18.00 curfew and has strict worm-bearing rules. The president has stuck to another deadlock that he says would cause unnecessary economic and social damage.
National daily infection rates have been stable at around 20,000 a day in February, but new cases have increased by 20% in the last week alone.
On Thursday, about 38,000 new infections were reported – the highest level in four months – when Paris hospitals overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases began transferring patients to other regions.
“When you press the emergency brake, for example with a shutdown this weekend, it is because you have failed with the rest,” Bruno Retailleau, a leading figure in the right-wing opposition party Les Républicains, told France Inter radio. to Macron’s strategy.
In addition to registering rising cases, France has had a slow start to its vaccination campaign and suspended the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford jab this week in line with many European partners.
Almost exactly one year ago, Macron ordered France’s first national lock, which was among the strictest in the world, followed by a second at the end of October.
More than 91,000 people have died in France from the disease, according to an official count.
( Jowharwith AFP)