FRANCE has recorded its highest EVER number of daily coronavirus cases – with 16,096 people testing positive for the bug in the past 24 hours.
It comes as the government announced new restrictions in major cities to stem the worrying surge in infections.
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The number of people hospitalised for the disease also went above 6,000 for the first time in more than two months, the health ministry confirmed.
Today’s rise of 16,096 new infections by far exceeds the previous record of 13,498 – and brings the total number of cases in the country to 497,237.
Coronavirus fatalities rose by 52, bringing the total to 31,511.
That figure is lower than the seven-day moving average of 59 but more than four times higher than the daily average of 12 seen in August.
Evidence is growing that the rise in infections is now resulting in a significant rise in patients experiencing a severe illness, with 1,043 patients now in intensive care units – the highest number since June 8.
It comes just a day after after the government announced extra restrictive measures, mainly in big cities and especially in Marseille, to reduce transmission of the virus.
From Monday, bars, cafes and restaurants are to shut down in France’s second city for at least a fortnight before ministers review the measure.
Health secretary Olivier Véran also announced that bars in Paris, Lille and Grenoble must also shut at 10pm from next week, while gatherings of more than 10 people will also be banned.
In addition, local ‘prefects’ will be given the power to shut bars earlier if necessary, while the number of people allowed to attend sports and cultural events will be slashed from 5,000 to 1,000.
Speaking on television network France 2 earlier today, Prime Minister Jean Castex issued a stark warning to the public amid the surge in cases.
He said: “It’s a race against time.
“The public must be attentive and prudent. If we don’t act we could find ourselves in a situation similar to spring.”
Cases have risen steadily since President Emmanuel Macron began to ease one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns on May 11, with the public packing out bars and beaches over the summer.
Mask wearing is already mandatory in public places in France, but there have been concerns about people flouting social distancing advice.
Travellers from France must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in the UK.
This week, Brits were warned the UK is just ‘a few weeks’ behind both France and Spain in terms of surging infection rates.