FRANCE has become Europe’s new coronavirus hotspot as it recorded its highest ever number of daily cases
The country’s count hit a new high with nearly 9,000 yesterday – almost double that of Europe’s second worst daily rate in Spain.
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Health minister Olivier Veran warned France must remain vigilant as medics expect intensive care beds will still filling up again within the next 15 days.
France’s daily coronavirus case count yesterday of 8,975 exceeded its previous high of 7,578 from the peak of the pandemic on March 31.
At the time France was in one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns, so the current surge will be major worry to the authorities.
It was a jump of nearly 2,000 from the previous days, which in turn were jumps of almost 2,000 in the two days before.
France saw lows of just 81 cases at the end of June before it began to ease out of lockdown, but cases have been creeping up ever since.
Just one month ago the daily count was 1,039 – meaning France has seen a staggering daily increase of 763 per cent.
Spiking case counts have recorded since the middle of August, with the daily count not being below 3,000 since August 19 – except for on August 24.
Mr Veran said the situation is different now to the worst days of the pandemic, but warned the spiking cases is cause for alarm.
France has a total of 309,156 cases and 30,724 deaths, while its two largest cities Paris and Marseilles have been declared virus “red zones”.
Spain had the second highest daily case count in Europe yesterday with 4,503, while the UK was third with 1,940.
Italy and Germany recorded 1,732 and 1,467, while the Netherlands and Belgium recorded 744 and 633.
Mr Veran said dismissed the need for a second lockdown, describing the measure as a “lid on an overflowing cooking pot”.
France’s infections are currently mostly impacting young people who are less likely to develop severe symptoms.
This puts less pressure on hospitals, which were almost overwhelmed with sick patients at the end of March.
The minister said: “We are not all on the same epidemic wave as last spring. We are on a slower trend but one that must alert us.
“This week, 55 patients on average were hospitalised in intensive care units each dates, this means we are on an average of 1,500 to 2,000 people hospitalised in ICU units per month in ourt country.
“This is not neutral and we must be extremely vigilant.”
Mr Veran assured the increase in severe cases “will not be massive”.
Last week, President Emmanuel Macron warned the hard-hit country may face another nationwide lockdown.
France’s strict two-month lockdown in the spring devastated its economy but was credited with sharply slowing the virus.
The health ministry warned Metropolitan France is now seeing an “exponential progression of the virus transmission”.
Nothing in theory can be excluded, Macron told reporters when asked about a new nationwide lockdown.
“I would not have learned much from what we have lived through for eight months if I said I totally exclude it,” he said.
“Containment is the crudest of measures to fight against a virus,” he said while urging people to be “collectively very rigorous”.
Macron said his government favours regional measures to stop outbreaks and will do everything it can to prevent a new nationwide lockdown by learning to live with the virus.
Amid worries France could become a new virus hotspot, Macron defended his push to restart the economy and its handling of the post-lockdown period.
Over the summer, French people traveled around the country for family gatherings and dance parties – which were blamed for fuelling the rise in cases.
In the face of new cases, Paris started requiring masks everywhere and French workers nationwide now have to wear masks on the job.
The government also promised to further ramp up testing capacity after coming under criticism for shortages of masks and tests when the virus first spread across France.
With Britain, Germany and Belgium all imposing new restrictions on people arriving from all or parts of France, Macron called for better European coordination to fight the spread of the virus.
He said it made no sense to close European borders, particularly for the millions of workers within the EU’s travel-free zone who cross countries to get to work.
Speaking at the end of July, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the scenes unfolding in Europe as the first signs of a “second wave”.
Tough travel restrictions remain in place for Brits heading to many European destinations amid fears they could bring the virus back to the UK.