France likely to extend partial lockdown to three more regions: spokesman

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PARIS, March 24 (Xinhua) — The French government is considering extending a partial lockdown, which was introduced in 16 regions last week, to three more regions, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said Wednesday after a weekly pandemic crisis meeting chaired by President Emmanuel Macron.

Starting last Friday, 16 French regions including the Paris region was placed under a four-week partial lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Attal said the coronavirus situation was worsening across the country and three more regions, including the Rhone region where the third-largest French city of Lyon is located, may be added to the list of high-risk areas.

Also on Wednesday, Prime Minister Jean Castex told the Senate that tougher restrictions might be enforced according to the evolution of the pandemic.

“We will continue with this regionalized strategy. We will maintain it as much as possible. The third wave is extremely important. We could be forced to harden according to the evolution of the pandemic,” Castex told the upper house of the parliament.

French cable channel BFM TV, citing data from health authorities, reported that some 26,876 people are now hospitalized in France because of COVID-19 while 248 deaths have been recorded in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, 4,651 COVID-19 patients are receiving treatment in intensive care in France, 17 more from the previous day, it added.

In the Paris region, hospital pressure reached the highest on Wednesday as the incidence rate hit 560 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients totaled 6,643 in the Paris region, including 1,386 in intensive care, according to the latest figures from Public Health France.

As of Wednesday, 6,850,063 people in France have received at least one jab of the vaccine, or 13 percent of the adult population. A total of 2,566,063 people, or 4.9 percent of the adult population, have received two injections, according to the Health Ministry.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in many countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 267 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 83 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on March 23. Enditem

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