France’s reopening plan in doubt as Covid cases surge

France has reported 14,595 fresh Covid-19 cases, casting into doubt the government’s plan to relax lockdown by mid-December, health authorities data showed.

France’s cumulative number of coronavirus cases has risen to 2,324,216, including 56,648 deaths, up by 296, Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 25,558 patients are receiving treatment in hospitals, representing a one-day fall of 356. Of those hospitalized, 3,041 need life support, down by 47 from Tuesday.

On November 28, France started the first phase of its three-stage reopening strategy, with all non-essential shops resuming their activities under strict health protocol. Stores must respect the rule of one client for every 8 square meters of shop floor, put in place one-way circulation and ventilate their premises.

The second phase is scheduled for December 15 if the number of daily Covid-19 cases falls to 5,000 per day and fewer than 3,000 patients in intensive care units are reported daily.

The number of daily cases has stagnated at between 10,000 and 14,000 in recent days, suggesting the government may delay the de-confinement to avoid a third epidemic wave after year-end festivities.

“The question … is to what extent this health situation should invite us to reconsider a number of things that had been planned for December 15,” the government spokesperson Gabriel Attal told CNews television Wednesday.

“If we must modify this second phase, then of course we will do it,” he said, warning that a risk of a third wave exists.