Friday, 16 Apr 2021

Macron on track for ‘devastating’ economic losses as Paris faces new lockdown

France: Expert on ‘devastating impact’ of another lockdown

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France must do everything to avoid a new coronavirus lockdown as pressure on hospitals grows, Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Sunday as the country reported more than 26,000 new cases. The French government has so far resisted pressure from some health experts to impose a new, third lockdown in the face of rising case numbers. The Government plans to transfer about 100 patients this week by air or special trains from the greater Paris region to other cities to help to ease pressure on hospitals in the capital.

Speaking to France 24, International Affairs Editor Armen Georgian said: “The greater Paris region has an outsized influence, it constitutes only two percent of French territory in a geographical sense but it accounts for 19 percent of the overall French population, 30 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and 20 percent of the country’s student population.

“In terms of the economy, of course, this region suffered a lot during the first few months of crisis because of industry such as hospitality and airlines are so important in this greater Paris region.

“According to the Chamber of Commerce in the region, nearly 100,00 private-sector jobs were lost as a result of the crisis.

“The reason I mention the student population is because there are so many institutions of higher education here and as we know there has been this invisible mental health crisis unfolding among the country’s students.

“Clearly another lockdown and even if it’s only a regional one would have a pretty devastating impact on that student body as well.”

The French government has imposed a 6pm nationwide curfew and weekend lockdowns in two regions struggling to contain outbreaks while big shopping centres have been required to close.

Mr Castex said: “We have to use all weapons available to avoid a lockdown.

“I’ve never hidden it, let’s vaccinate, protect ourselves, get tested.”

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The health ministry reported on Sunday 26,343 new COVID-19 cases, down from 29,759 the previous day, while the number people who have died from the virus rose by 140 to a total 90,429.

Meanwhile, the number of people in intensive care units edged higher by 57 to 4,127, while emergency resuscitation units were running at nearly 82% of capacity, the highest since late November when France was in its second lockdown.

“The situation is not getting better, there is a higher and higher number of infections and hospitals are very burdened with many patients, whose average age is getting lower and who don’t always have comorbidities,” Castex said.

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In Paris and the surrounding region, healthcare managers say the intensive care units are close to being overloaded.

Mr Castex said that in the Ile-de-France region around Paris the vaccination campaign would be sped up this weekend, with the delivery of 25,000 extra doses.

France’s vaccination programme has been hampered by logistical bottlenecks and problems with deliveries from vaccine manufacturers but Castex said the campaign was speeding up, with 320,326 shots administered on Friday, a new record.

As of Friday, 7.04 million people, more than one-tenth of the French population, had been vaccinated, official figures showed, including 2.22 million second injections.

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