French government to consider local lockdowns as COVID virus worsens

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French Prime Minister Jean Castex warned Friday the country was seeing a "clear worsening" of the coronavirus pandemic, but aimed to avoid a new nationwide lockdown that would hammer the economy. The latest figure is more than 100 higher than the previous day when 9,406 cases were confirmed on Friday.

Since the beginning of the month, new cases have gone up by 7,292 each day on average, a figure that blows away the previous record daily average of 3,003 seen in August.

France has recorded nearly 10,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, marking its highest single-day count since the start of the outbreak. New admissions to hospitals exceeded 5,000 and the number of those in intensive care went up by 71 to 599.

The French health ministry also reported that 772 clusters were being investigated, an increase of 86 in the past 24 hours.

"We have to continue to be careful, to be realistic", said the president, warning against the dangers of any panic reaction.

Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the government on the epidemic, said the spread of the virus was being closely monitored in big cities such as Paris and Marseille.

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Castex said his government would implement fast-tracked Covid-19 testing for priority cases and provide local authorities with the power to make some businesses reduce opening hours.

"We must do everything we can to avoid local lockdowns".

And the quarantine period for people who catch the virus will be shortened to just seven days from 14, to better match "the period when there is a real risk of contagion", he said.

He was referring to measures such as social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face-masks in much of France.

"The only way we will succeed in stopping this epidemic is if all of us are vigilant and stick together".

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