Coronavirus cases pass 500,000 in France, restaurant owners in Marseille protest closures

French Health Minister Olivier Véran visits the La Timone hospital in Marseille, on September 25, 2020.
French Health Minister Olivier Véran visits the La Timone hospital in Marseille, on September 25, 2020. © Christophe Simon, AFP

The number of coronavirus cases in France has passed 500,000, authorities said on Friday after recording a near-record daily jump in infections. Meanwhile, hundreds of restaurant and bar owners in the virus-hit city of Marseille took to the streets to protest a government order to close their businesses to stop the alarming spread of Covid-19.


The total number stood at 513,034, health ministry data showed, taking France into a group of just 11 countries with more than half a million cases. The United States has the most with 7 million.

Earlier on Friday, hundreds of restaurant and bar owners in France’s second-biggest city, Marseille – the epicentre of a second wave of Covid-19 – protested against a government order to shut their businesses.

Health Minister Olivier Véran announced the closures for Marseille and the surrounding region this week after contagion rates jumped, while bars and restaurants in Paris and 10 other cities will have to shut by 10pm starting Monday.

“We cannot allow ourselves to dither,” Véran told reporters in Marseille Friday.

 “I am fully aware that some of these measures are controversial”, sparking worry “and even anger”, he said, but “they are not arbitrary".

In the past two weeks, France has recorded nearly 150,000 new Covid-19 cases, more than the 132,000 recorded during the two-month lockdown in the spring.

It registered 15,797 new confirmed cases on Friday, just shy of a daily record of 16,096 set a day earlier.

The number of people who have died from the infection jumped by 150 on Friday – triple the daily levels of the past week – to 31,661.

In addition, the amount of people in hospital with the infection also continued its steady ascent of the past month, rising by 97 to 6,128, with the number of people in intensive care up by 50 to 1,098.

Both hospital numbers are still well below their highs of more than 32,000 and 7,100 respectively set during the peak of the crisis in April.


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