France ‘loses control’ of coronavirus amid steep rise in cases

Anti-government protesters started marching in the Paris streets

Virus patients now occupy more than half of France’s intensive care units, and some doctors are urging tougher restrictions after another record jump in confirmed infections.

Dr Jean-Francois Delfraissy, head of the government’s virus advisory body, expressed surprise at the “brutality” of the rise, after more than 52,000 new cases were reported on Sunday.

Speaking on RTL radio, he floated the idea of local lockdowns or extending France’s 9pm to 6am curfews, which currently cover about half of the country and more than two-thirds of its people.

The number of people in hospital in France with the virus has climbed sharply in recent weeks, putting renewed pressure on ICUs.

Covid patients now fill more than two-thirds of the ICUs in the Paris region.

Dr Eric Caumes, head of the infectious and tropical diseases department at Paris’ Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital, told broadcaster Franceinfo on Monday that “we have lost control of the epidemic, though it doesn’t date from yesterday”.

France has been among countries hardest-hit by the pandemic, reporting 34,761 virus-related deaths.

It is currently registering more than 340 positive cases per 100,000 people nationwide each week.

Dr Delfraissy warns that this latest wave of the virus could be “stronger than the first” and is spreading all around Europe.

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