Third lockdown in France may be imminent as Covid-19 cases surge
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The daily number of new COVID-19 cases in France stayed above 20,000 on average for the fourth straight day on Tuesday while hospitalisations kept growing to reach an eight-week high of 27,041, increasing fears of a third national lockdown.
President Emmanuel Macron still hopes a 6 p.m. curfew put in place 11 days ago will be enough to rein in the surge in new infections prompted by the emergence of more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
Despite calls from some doctors and medics for a new lockdown, government minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said earlier there was no need to make a decision on such a measure at this stage.
Macron will head the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday and a government COVID-19 press conference is scheduled for Thursday.
Health authorities reported 22,086 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours on Tuesday, up sharply from Monday's 4,240, giving a seven-day moving average, which averages out daily data-reporting irregularities, of 20,230.
The government needs that figure to go below 5,000 to regard the pandemic as being fully under control.
The number of people being treated in intensive-care units (ICUs) for COVID-19 was also up, at 3,081, staying above the key 3,000 threshold for the second day running. A drop below 3,000 led the government to relax the second lockdown on Dec. 15.
France's cumulative total of infections now stands at 3,079,943, the sixth highest in the world.
Its COVID-19 death toll rose by 612 to 74,106, the world's seventh-highest, after an increase of 445 on Monday. The seven-day moving average of new fatalities stands at 395.
After France's Pasteur Institute said on Monday it had decided to halt one of its potential COVID-19 vaccine projects, French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi said it would aim to supply more than 100 million doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from July.
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