COVID-19: France puts 2 more cities on maximum alert

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France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex spoke in an interview with franceinfo radio Monday morning to announce the placement of Toulouse and Montpellier at the maximum alert level.

The two major cities are added to six others already on maximum alert level for coronavirus risk as infections reached record-breaking levels over the weekend.

“Today indeed we are in a very difficult situation. The reality of the second wave is there and therefore I call in an extremely clear way we all mobilize ourselves to be able to face this second wave,” Castex said.

The new alert level means bars and cafes will close entirely for 15 days, unless they serve food wherein they will be classified as a restaurant — with a closing time of 10 p.m.

“If in this 15-day period, we see that the health indicators deteriorate a lot, that the resuscitation beds are filling even more than expected, we can take additional measures,” Castex said.

The same regulations have already been put in place over the past two weeks for the Aix-Marseille and Paris regions, overseas territory of Guadeloupe, and cities of Lille, Lyon, Saint-Etienne, and Grenoble, where rates of infection have risen dramatically.

According to the French Health Ministry, as of Monday, COVID-19 infections reached 16,101, dipping from Saturday’s high of 26,896 — the biggest daily jump since the end of lockdown — and Friday’s spike of 20,339.

There were 46 additional fatalities with the death toll currently standing at 32,730. Since the start of record-keeping, 734,974 total cases have been logged.

There were 5,084 new hospitalizations over the past week, with 910 people in intensive care.

The prime minister also announced that he will not rule out a possible second re-confinement of certain municipalities if need be, stressing that they would be localized.

“General re-confinement must be avoided by all means,” he said. “Nothing should be excluded when we see the situation in our hospitals,” Castex added when pressed.

To avoid the spread of the virus, the prime minister appealed to French citizens to limit visits among families and relatives.

“We will see what the epidemiological data are at the start of the week to see if it is necessary to go further,” Castex said.

Castex also announced that a new and revised version of a mobile phone app, StopCovid, would be launched Oct. 22 since the first version — launched June 2 — did not receive the grand reception officials hoped it would.

The StopCovid app is a tracking and tracing application that users may download to their mobile phones to alert those they have come into contact with if they have contracted the coronavirus.

Despite officials deeming it an efficient and instant way to break the chain of transmission, the app was only downloaded by approximately 2.6 million users in a country of 67 million people. The prime minister admitted that even he had not downloaded the app.

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