France struggles to contain coronavirus spread

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The number of new coronavirus infections in France jumped more than 20,000 in one day for the first time since the start of the epidemic, health ministry data showed on Friday.

The ministry reported 20,330 new infections, taking the cumulative total to 691,977 since the start of the year. In the past two days the ministry had reported more than 18,000 daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The number of deaths from the virus increased by 109 to 32,630, the most in a week but below highs of around 150 seen earlier this month. The death toll figures can be skewed as the ministry often reports several days of senior citizen residence data in one batch.

People wearing protective face masks wait in line to receive a COVID-19 test outside of a laboratory in Paris, France. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED BADRA

The number of people in hospital jumped by another 240 to 7,864 nationwide and the number of people in intensive care units – the best measure of a health system’s ability to deal with the epidemic -rose by 21 to 1,448.

At the height of the crisis in early April, more than 7,000 people were in intensive care with COVID.

On Thursday, France’s health minister said that Lyon – the country’s third-biggest city – and three other cities will have to close their bars in coming days, as Paris and Marseille have done, in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

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