France reports 363 Covid deaths in one day, new lockdown feared

A woman wearing a face mask walks past Christmas trees in Paris, France.

Paris, (Asian independent) France on Monday reported 363 Covid-19 deaths, a sign of no improvement of the epidemic situation, which has raised the perspective of a third lockdown, probably at the regional level, after holiday seasons.

The country has registered over 2.56 million cases and 63,109 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to official data. The number of new cases dropped to 2,960 on Monday, but that is due to the closure of many scanning places during the weekend, Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 24,678 patients are currently hospitalized for Covid-19 infection, up by 25 compared to Sunday. Meanwhile, 2,703 remain in intensive care units, up by 44.

As the Covid-19 continues to spread, a third confinement is not excluded, Health Minister Olivier Veran warned on Sunday in an interview with the weekly magazine Le Journal Du Dimanche.

“We never rule out measures that may be necessary to protect the population. It does not mean that we have decided, but that we observe the situation hour by hour,” said Veran.

France went into a first lockdown from March to May, followed by another less strict one from October 30 to December 14. Businesses are now open but a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. is in place to stem the spread of the disease.

Nationally, around 50 percent of intensive care beds are currently occupied by Covid-19 patients. In some regions, the rate exceeds 80 percent.

“Three territories worry us: Grand-Est (in northeast bordering Germany), Burgundy-Franche-Comte (in the east bordering Switzerland) and Alpes-Maritimes starting with Nice (in the south),” the health minister said in the interview.

Some mayors in these regions have called for tougher restrictions. Mathieu Klein, Mayor of Nancy in Grand-Est, told local media Monday that a local re-confinement is “inevitable,” calling for “accelerating” the vaccination campaign in the worst-hit regions.

President Emmanuel Macron and his cabinet will review the epidemic situation on Wednesday, according to the Elysee.