France considers more lockdowns as coronavirus cases soar

The Champs-Elysees in Paris is practically empty during curfew earlier this month. Picture by Lewis Joly, Associated Press
Associated Press Reporter

France's government is holding emergency virus meetings and warning of possible new lockdowns, as hospitals fill up with new Covid patients and doctors plead for backup.

President Emmanuel Macron is convening top ministers and prime minister Jean Castex is meeting with politicians, unions and business lobbies as the government weighs its next steps in the fight against surging infections.

Interior minister Gerald Darmanin told France-Inter radio that "we should expect difficult decisions".

READ MORE: Vaccines 'could be effective despite natural Covid-19 antibodies fall'

Among possible new measures for the hardest-hit areas are lengthening existing curfews, full confinement on weekends or all week, and closing non-essential businesses.

Doctors describe growing pressure on emergency services and intensive care wards, where Covid patients now take up 54% of beds nationwide.

France is now reporting more than 350 new cases per 100,000 people each week, and nearly 18% of its widespread tests are now coming back positive.

It has reported Europe's third-highest virus death toll, at more than 35,000 lives lost.

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