France ‘must stop dithering’ on pandemic says expert
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Speaking to the nation tonight, the French President announced the country will enter into another lockdown for at least one month, which will see a 7pm curfew imposed on the whole of the country. He also announced non-essential shops and schools would have to close. Mr Macron said: “We will lose control if we do not move now.”
The French President said the country faces “a race against the clock” to stop the surge in coronavirus cases.
As a result, he announced a swathe of new lockdown measures that will affect the whole of the country.
Schools, day care centres and educational facilities will be closed for three weeks, from Monday April 5, but the children of medics will still be allowed to attend.
Mr Macron announced a change to the current school timetable and said nurseries and primary schools will reopen from April 26, while middle and high schools will be allowed to return to the classroom from May 3.
University students will be allowed to go in for only one day a week.
Mr Macron said he intended to re-open France from mid-May onwards, to “rebuild a path to hope and get back to a normal life”.
The new measures announced by Mr Macron will be debated and voted on in the French parliament tomorrow.
Emmanuel Macron has just plunged France into its third lockdown (Image: SKYNEWS)
Emmanuel Macron made the announcement from the Élysée Palace (Image: France24)
Mr Macron said he was forced to act to contain COVID-19, as cases have risen by 55 percent in a fortnight.
He said the past year has been one of “great pain, sorrow and sacrifice” but the country must come together to ensure the virus is combatted once more.
The French leader said: “If we show signs of solidarity we will see the light at the end of this tunnel.”
Mr Macron has sought to avoid introducing a third national lockdown since the start of the year, but the rising figures and emergence of a worrying new Covid strain pressure has been building on officials to introduce tougher measures.
Last week the French President defended his decision not to impose a third lockdown, despite the surge in infections.
Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation at 8pm local time (Image: Getty)
Parisian doctors have identified a new variant of COVID-19, which is more easily transmissible.
Scientists at the Henri Mondor hospital said the variant had 18 new mutations, including two which can spread quicker and fight vaccines more successfully than the original strain.
So far, there appear to be few cases of this variant, dubbed the Henri Mondor variant, but it is said to be spreading quickly.
Forty-one doctors in Paris warned hospitals may soon have to start choosing which patients to treat, as they are almost at full capacity.
Writing in Le Journal de Dimanche, they said: “All indicators show that the current measures are and will be insufficient to quickly reverse the alarming curve of contaminations.”
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France has seen cases of Covid-19 surge in recent weeks (Image: Getty)
Other doctors and epidemiologists are calling for the government to reintroduce restrictions that were implemented last March.
Currently, only regional restrictions are in place, which affect about a third of the population, including the Paris region.
These areas saw nonessential businesses close, travel banned between regions and people told to limit their outdoor activities to places within six miles of their homes.
But critics said the measures do not go far enough and have forced Mr Macron to introduce restrictions across the entire country.
Global coronavirus cases and deaths (Image: Express)
Last night France reported more than 5,000 patients are in intensive care, the highest number this year and exceeding the peak hit during a six-week-long lockdown in the autumn.
Areas with rising infections are also facing bed shortages, with an average of 37,000 daily new cases being reported across the country in the past week.
France isn’t the only country facing a surge in infections, with Poland, Italy, Germany and Ukraine making up the top five European countries with the newest cases each day.
All five countries have increased substantially over the past fortnight.