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France sees 'clear worsening' of Covid-19 outbreak, govt maintains strategy, says PM

French Prime Minister Jean Castex.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex. © Mehdi Fedouach, AFP

France is seeing an acceleration of the Covid-19 outbreak after a surge in infections but aims to avoid any new nationwide lockdown, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Friday.

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There is a "clear worsening" in France of the spread of Covid-19, which has "not lowered in intensity" and "will still be with us for some months", Castex said in a televised statement in Paris.

But he did not announce any major new restrictions, saying France's aim is to "avoid a general lockdown" and succeed in living with the virus through social distancing, mask-wearing and ramped-up testing.

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.

Record tally

France recorded nearly 10,000 new coronavirus infections in a single day on Thursday, its highest tally since the pandemic began. The country's Defence Council met on Friday to discuss new measures to stem the spread of the virus. President Emmanuel Macron had pledged that decisions taken on Friday would "provide visibility for the weeks to come".

As Covid-19 case numbers mount in France, with 9,843 confirmed on Thursday alone, experts say the time has come for some tough choices to attenuate the risk of a second wave.

Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific panel counselling the French government on coronavirus matters, said Wednesday the government would be "obliged to take a certain number of difficult decisions... in the next eight to 10 days at most".

Castex addressed the country on Friday from his office, where he is self-isolating after spending Saturday with the director of the Tour de France, Christian Prudhomme, who later tested positive for coronavirus.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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