Paris faces new lockdown with announcement due tonight after soaring Covid cases caused hospitals in the city to overflow
- France on Wednesday reported its largest one-day rise in Covid cases since its last lockdown eased, with 38,501 infections confirmed
- Government spokesman then warned that regional lockdowns will be imposed
- Paris confirmed to be facing curbs, with exact measures announced tonight
- City has been at the forefront of France’s third wave, with hospitals at capacity
Paris is facing another lockdown to curb a surge in coronavirus cases, the French government has announced.
Ministers will impose tougher Covid restrictions on a number of regions including Ile-de-France, where Paris is located, with an announcement due tonight. It is not clear when the measures will come into force
The move comes after France on Wednesday announced its biggest daily rise in Covid cases since its most recent lockdown was lifted in late November last year.
France, like much of Europe, has been left vulnerable to a Covid third wave due to its slow vaccine roll-out that has left most of the population unprotected.
EU bureaucracy and supply issues have been blamed for much of the shambles, but it has been hampered further France’s decision to temporarily halt the use of AstraZeneca vaccines.
Paris has been at the forefront of France’s third wave of Covid, with patients evacuated from hospitals in the city on Monday after intensive care beds ran out
The move came amid fears the jab could cause blod clots, despite EU leaders, the World Health Organization and Europe’s own medical regulator saying it is safe.
The European Medicines Agency is due to give its final ruling on the safety of the jab today, and Emmanuel Macron has signalled that he is ready to ‘quickly’ resume use of the vaccine once the ruling is public.
France recorded 38,501 new cases of the virus Wednesday up from 29,975 the day before, the country’s public health body said.
The last lockdown in France began to be eased on November 28 last year, and the largest one-day rise since then was 31,519 cases recorded on February 24.
The cabinet held an emergency meeting to discuss the figures on Wednesday night, after which spokesman Gabriel Attal confirmed new measures would be imposed.
Attal said the new measures could include some form of lockdown including in the Paris region, but added that schools will not be closed.
Prime Minister Jean Castex will announce the exact measures at a press conference on Thursday evening.
France has been using weekend lockdowns in other cities in order to bring down Covid rates, and Mr Castex said on Tuesday that the same measures will be considered for Paris if the situation gets worse.
‘We are in a worrying and critical situation and, clearly, measures of the type that have been used in other parts of the territory are on the table,’ Castex said.
Paris has been at the forefront of France’s third wave of Covid as new and more-infectious variants of the virus, such as the one from the UK, take hold.
Intensive care units in the city have breached capacity in recent days, with patients having to be evacuated from the city by helicopter to nearby hospitals.
On a visit to hospital outside Paris on Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron said any new measures would be ‘proportionate’ and be made on a territorial basis.
‘We will take the decisions that need to be taken,’ he said.
In all, just over 5.5 million people in France have had at least one vaccine shot and nearly 2.4 million have received both doses, official data show.
That is compared to 25million people in the UK who have had at least one dose of the vaccine, and 1.7million people who have had two doses.
Macron, who visited hospitals in Paris on Wednesday, said any new measures would be ‘proportionate’ and made on a territory-by-territory basis
That discrepancy led EU commission president Ursula von der Leyen to threaten to block exports to countries with higher vaccination rates than Europe.
Von der Leyen, without directly mentioning the UK, said export blocks would be used to ensure ‘reciprocity’ when it came to exports.
She then demanded that Britain hand over AstraZeneca jabs which are being used as part of its roll-out, despite the jab currently being banned across much of Europe.
It is thought there are currently 7.5million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine sitting un-used in Europe as a result of the bans.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, offered a sharp rebuke to European decisions not to use the jab, saying: ‘Vaccines don’t save lives if they’re in fridges.
‘They only save lives if they’re in arms, and that’s a really important fact.’
Ms von der Leyen’s comments today raise the possibility that stocks of Pfizer jab manufactured in Belgium could be prevented from going to Britain — although most of the UK’s AstraZeneca supplies are made in this country.
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