Three additional French regions including the Rhone department around the city of Lyon will be put under tightened COVID-19 restrictions for four weeks, the government announced on Thursday.
The move follows similar measures imposed a week earlier on the Paris region and a large part of northern France, where most non-essential stores have been ordered to close and people are limited in how far they can travel from their homes.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating almost everywhere in France,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said, adding that pressure on the hospital system will continue to increase in coming days.
The new restrictions take effect from midnight on Friday and come on top of nationwide curbs. A nightly curfew is in place across the country and restaurant, bars, museums and cinemas are closed.
France reported 45,641 new infections over 24 hours after an increase of 65,373 on Wednesday, numbers last seen in November when the country was under its second national lockdown.
The number of people in intensive care units with COVID-19, increased by 58 to reach a new 2021 high of 4,709. The total number of hospitalisations for the disease went beyond the 27,000 level for the first time in six weeks.
“The pressure on the hospital system will continue to increase in the coming days”, Veran said, adding a minimum of 10 days was needed to see the impact of new restrictive measures.
The death toll rose by 225 over 24 hours, to 93,378, the eighth-highest in the world. The case count, at 4.42 million, is the fifth-highest globally.