French virus cases set post-lockdown record
August 13 2020 12:35 AM
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A mobile testing unit for the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) is seen yesterday at the beach of Pentrez in Saint-Nic, western France.

Reuters/AFP/Paris/Rome/Madrid/Athens

The French health ministry reported 2,524 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, a new post-lockdown daily record, which took the country’s cumulative total of cases to 206,696.
The coronavirus causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
The seven-day moving average of new infections, which smoothes out daily data-reporting irregularities, increased to 1,810, the highest level since April 24, when the epidemic was still in full swing and France was under a strict lockdown.
The seven-day average, which set a high of 4,537 on April 1, has now been above 1,000 for two weeks, with the infection rate increasing as millions of French people travel during the holiday season and social-distancing rules are not always respected in busy areas.
The government spokesman said yesterday that France will gradually ramp up police checks to ensure people wear face masks where it is mandatory and respect social distancing amidst a new surge of Covid-19 infections.
“We’re at a tipping point (...) we’re going to mobilise police forces to make checks,” Gabriel Attal said.
Despite the sharp jump in infections, the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 continued to fall and was down by 121 to 4,891, the first time it fell below 5,000 since March 19.
It had set a high of 32,292 on April 14.
The number of people in intensive care with coronavirus continued its slide, and was down by 12 to 379, after having risen a few days last week.
The daily death toll increased by 18 to 30,371, compared to an increase of 14 on Tuesday and a seven-day moving average of nine.
Meanwhile, Italian regions have begun to order new periods of quarantines for people returning from higher-risk European countries such as Spain and Greece in a bid to stem the latest outbreaks of coronavirus.
Health authorities worry that Italians returning from vacations abroad may be bringing home the virus and passing it on during the summer when people are crowding outdoors, on beaches, at festivals or parties.
As the national government studies whether to reissue more stringent anti-Covid-19 restrictions, such as making the wearing of masks mandatory in public, regions are already clamping down.
The president of Emilia Romagna was expected to sign an order mandating coronavirus tests for anyone returning to the region from Spain, Greece and Malta, all Schengen area countries where travel with Italy is unrestricted.
Those returning from Croatia will also be ordered to quarantine.
A mandatory 14-day quarantine also began yesterday in the southern regions of Puglia and Campania for people returning from Spain, Greece and Malta.
Sicily is prepared to follow suit, its regional president said.
“In the last two days, we’ve logged numerous cases of Puglia residents who have tested positive after coming back from Greece, Malta, Spain, countries with a high viral circulation,” said Puglia’s regional president Michele Emiliano.
More than 251,000 people have been infected by coronavirus and more than 35,000 have died in Italy, the first European country to be hit by the pandemic.
More than 13,000 people are currently infected.
Experts have been concerned at reports of young Italians returning from abroad and creating micro-clusters of infection, such as the group of 30 teenagers in the region of Veneto, some of whom tested positive after a trip to Croatia.
Veneto said yesterday that it had 29 new cases, with 500 more people ordered to self-isolate.
From Monday to Tuesday, Emilia Romagna, Puglia and Campania reported 19, 20 and 23 new cases, respectively.
Coronavirus cases in Spain jumped by nearly 1,700 yesterday, part of a surge that has prompted the construction of a military field hospital in the hard-hit Aragon region and led authorities in Galicia to practically ban smoking in public places.
Health ministry data showed 1,690 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed in the past 24 hours, up from the 1,418 reported on Tuesday and bringing the cumulative total to 329,784.
The new daily number excluded Madrid, which did not provide fresh data due to technical difficulties.
Since lifting its strict lockdown around six weeks ago Spain has struggled to keep a lid on new infections, with average daily cases rising from less than 150 in June to more than 1,500 in the first 12 days of August.
In scenes reminiscent of the epidemic’s March-April peak, TV footage showed air force personnel setting up dark green tents to serve as a field hospital in Zaragoza, Aragon’s regional capital in northeastern Spain.
Set to open tomorrow, the facility attached to Zaragoza’s University Clinic hospital will be used as a triage centre and temporary ward, the air force said in a statement.
With 571 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, Aragon has the highest prevalence of the virus in Spain.
Navarre, with the second-highest rate, has just 159 cases per 100,000 people.
Despite having some of the lowest levels of the virus, northwestern Galicia issued a blanket ban on smoking on the street and on restaurant terraces when social-distancing cannot be guaranteed.
Under Spain’s decentralised government, each region is largely in charge of its own response to the virus, leading to a patchwork of different restrictions and preventative measures.
Wealthy northeastern Catalonia is set to expand a mass-testing program in the coming days to include several neighbourhoods of its capital, Barcelona.
Greece meanwhile reported 262 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, its highest daily tally since the start of the outbreak in the country, health authorities said.
The latest jump in cases brings the total number of infections in the country to 6,177 since its first infection surfaced in late February.
There have been 216 deaths recorded.
The increase in infections in recent weeks has prompted authorities to gradually introduce more restrictions during the peak of the tourism season.



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