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French health minister says observing social distancing 'vital' to avoid new lockdown

French Health Minister Olivier Veran attends the closing session of a general meeting on the country's health system at the French Health Ministry in Paris on July 21, 2020.
French Health Minister Olivier Veran attends the closing session of a general meeting on the country's health system at the French Health Ministry in Paris on July 21, 2020. REUTERS - POOL New

France's health minister urged the country on Wednesday not to drop its guard against COVID-19, saying it faced a long battle and that observing social distancing rules was vital to avoiding a new national lockdown.

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France reported 14 new deaths from the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, a figure twice as high as the daily average increase of seven seen over the previous week. A total of 30,223 people have now died of COVID-19 in France, health authorities said.

"We are not facing a second wave, the epidemic is continuing... Some people do not respect the rules. We must not let down our guard," Health Minister Olivier Véran told LCI television.

"We do not want to resort to another lockdown, we are examining the situation on a case-by-case basis. The war is not over... People must understand that we are going to live with this virus for a fairly long time."

Véran was asked whether he would advise against going on holiday in the Brittany resort of Quiberon after a COVID-19 cluster was reported there last week and local authorities ordered a night curfew for beaches.

"On Quiberon, there is a cluster of about 50 people. We are looking at the situation. It will depend on the spread of the virus. If we need to take other measures, we will take them," he said.

The Quiberon prefecture later said there were now 72 confirmed cases, mostly people aged 18 to 25.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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