The number of new daily coronavirus infections in France increased by an all-time high of 58,046 in the past 24 hours, the country’s Director General of Health Jerome Salomon said on Thursday. The previous record – 52,518 – was reported on November 2.
France has registered over 1.6 million cases since the pandemic began, the highest number in Europe, Salomon told reporters, Xinhua news agency reported.
A total of 39,037 patients have succumbed to the respiratory illness, 363 of them in the past 24 hours.
The number of hospitalisations rose by about 3,000 in one day. According to Salomon, 447 patients are on ventilators.
Salomon said one out of four patients who need life support “will not survive the next few weeks.”
“The epidemiological situation is serious. The second wave is brutal and spreads rapidly. It concerns the whole territory,” he warned.
“The epidemic evolution becomes dangerous for our health system, which has to absorb the flows of Covid-19 patients and the other patients,” he said. “Each day counts. We have to break this epidemic dynamic together.”
France’s 67 million population entered a second nationwide lockdown on October 30. It is scheduled to last until at least early December.
People are only allowed to go out for work, to buy essential goods, for health emergency or for an hour of exercise.
University students have been called on to switch to distance learning, while non-essential shops, libraries, bars, cafes, gyms and restaurants must remain closed.
Private meetings and public gatherings are banned and cultural events and conferences are suspended.
Unlike the previous lockdown, visits to nursing homes are allowed. Nurseries, schools, colleges, high schools and public institutions remain open with “a reinforced health protocol.” Under the new rules, French schoolchildren aged six and over must face wear masks in class. Previously, mask wearing was compulsory for kids aged ten and over.
“If we had not done anything, there would have been some 9,000 coronavirus patients in mid-November in intensive care units,” Health Minister Olivier Veran said at the same press briefing.
“If we do not sufficiently respect confinement, if the virus continues to circulate at the same rate, then we will face a strong risk of saturation at the national level from mid-November with more than 7,000 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care, or more than 70 percent of our maximum capacity,” he said.
Warning that “the next days and weeks will be difficult,” Veran urged the public to strictly respect the restrictive measures. “The more we respect confinement, the shorter it will last.”