France surpasses 1 million Covid cases amid second wave of pandemic

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French health authorities say France has registered over 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus since the pandemic started and became the second country in Western Europe after Spain to reach the number of known infections.

The National Health Agency released new figures showing that tests had confirmed at least 1,041,075 cases in France this year, including 42,032 new cases reported within the last 24 hours.

Experts say the real number of infections is likely to be much higher than those reported by governments around the world due to lack of testing early in the pandemic, asymptomatic cases and other problems.

Like other countries in Europe, France has seen its daily number of cases rise sharply in recent weeks as the virus returns to Europe. COVID-19 patients now occupy more than 42% of ICU beds nationally and 64% in the Paris region.

More than 11,000 new COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized in the past week, including 1,714 who are in intensive care, according to the National Health Agency.

France extends curfew overnight

Speaking earlier Friday after visiting a hospital in Pontoise, a suburb north of Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said “the epidemic is accelerating very strongly.”

The French government has extended a curfew it imposed in eight urban areas of France last week to include 38 more regions and Polynesia. 9 to 6 curfews and other public health measures will last for “at least six weeks,” Macron said.

Enlargement means that 46 million of France’s 67 million people will be under curfew, banning them from being out during these hours except for limited reasons, such as walking a dog, traveling to and from work and taking a train or a flight.

France has reported over 34,000 virus-related deaths, one of the highest tolls in Europe.

(AP)