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Tougher virus measures possible in some regions of France

The French government has declared a raised warning level for 20 departments, including the greater Paris area, as leaders warn the coronavirus situation has worsened in recent days.

The French government has declared a raised warning level for 20 departments, including the greater Paris area, as leaders warn the coronavirus situation has worsened in recent days.

Tightened measures that are already in place in severely affected areas will now be considered for those departments as well, said Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday.

“If the situation becomes worse, we will take stronger measures that will come into force from the weekend of March 6,” Castex said, warning that the health situation in the country had deteriorated in the past few days.

For the first time since November, more than 30,000 new infections were reported within 24 hours on Wednesday. The British variant accounts for about half the cases in the country, Castex said.

“The virus is on the rise in France, as in almost all of Europe,” said Castex, who said everything possible must be done to stop a third national lockdown.

Across France, a strict curfew has been in place from 6 pm for weeks, with people allowed to leave their homes only for valid reasons, though schools and retail are mostly open.

Paris city authorities spoke out in favour of a short, tough lockdown on Thursday evening.

Emmanuel Gregoire, first deputy mayor of France, told FranceInfo that the French capital would propose several measures to combat the virus, including a roughly three-week lockdown, with the prospect of being able to open restaurants and cultural venues afterwards.

“The current situation is the worst because it involves half-measures with poor results,” said Gregoire.

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