New French COVID lockdown may have to go beyond Dec. 1 – government adviser

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France’s new national lockdown, aimed at curbing the resurgence of COVID-19, may have to be extended beyond its initial deadline of Dec. 1, government scentific adviser Professor Jean-François Delfraissy said on Thursday.

President Emmanuel Macron said late on Wednesday that France might start to ease back lockdown measures once COVID infections fell back to about 5,000 per day from around 40,000 per day at present.

But Delfraissy said he did not think that could be achieved by Dec. 1.

“By December 1, we will not be at 5,000 contaminations per day. I can tell that to you straight away today. We will need more time,” said Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that advises the French government on the pandemic. 

Medical staff wearing protective facial masks transport a patient on a medical chair inside the Tenon Hospital in Paris, France. EPA-EFE/JULIEN DE ROSA

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into lockdown on Wednesday, as a massive second wave of coronavirus infections threatened to overwhelm Europe before the winter.

Germany will shut bars, restaurants and theatres from Nov. 2-30 under measures agreed between Merkel and heads of regional governments. Schools will stay open, and shops will be allowed to operate with strict limits on access.

“We need to take action now,” Merkel said. “Our health system can still cope with this challenge today, but at this speed of infections it will reach the limits of its capacity within weeks.”

“If we wait until the intensive care units are full, it will be too late,” said German Health Minister Jens Spahn, whose country already has taken in patients from its neighbour the Netherlands, where hospitals have reached their limits.

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