Health authorities in France have confirmed a “marked increase” of 54% in the number of coronavirus cases across the French mainland since last week.
The rise covered all age groups but the public health authority said the rise was particularly worrying in those aged between 20 and 30. There was also an increase in the number of patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19, though the figures for those requiring intensive care remained stable.
As France prepared for a heatwave, people were being urged to keep their face coverings on despite the soaring temperatures, expected to reach 41C (106F) in areas.
The number of new cases in the previous 24 hours was 1,377, only slightly fewer than the previous day, which was a record since May, and the number of clusters under investigation rose by 10 to 151. There were 16 deaths in hospital in the previous 24 hours taking the total number of deaths in France attributed to the coronavirus to 30,254.
In its report for 20-26 July Santé Publique France said the number of positive tests for coronavirus in France, including overseas departments, had risen for the third week in a row and the increase was “significant”. Just under 458,000 patients were tested and 6,407 found to be positive for the virus, an increase of 44% on the number of positive tests the previous week.
Of those tested, just under 440,000 were resident in mainland France, known as l’Hexagone, and 5,592 tested positive, an increase of 54% on the number of positive tests the previous week. In short, the number of tests carried out increased by 27%, while the number of positive results increased by 54%.
“In week 30 the increase in new positive cases is much higher than the increase in the number of tests carried out,” it declared.
More than half (51%) of those who tested positive showed no symptoms. Of those testing positive 69% were aged between 15-44 and of those the biggest increase was among 20-25-year-olds.
The R-number – the number of people one person with the virus will infect – on average, rose from 1.35 to 1.42.
The increase in clusters was said to be a result of large family gatherings as well as public and private events.
Santé Publique France said the increase was also due to the “drop in the systematic adoption of prevention measures (keeping a minimum 1 metre distance, not shaking hands and stopping embraces)”.