Experts warn France has lost control of the epidemic, with nearly 18,000 people in hospital due to COVID-19.
France is convening defence council meetings this week to determine what new restrictions should be issued amid what experts are calling a “brutal” second wave of COVID-19 infections in the country.
Back in March, most of the cases were located in the eastern part of the country, but now infections are spread throughout France, and hospitals are filling up quickly.
France counted a record 52,000 new cases on Sunday but experts say that with many asymptomatic cases, the toll is likely higher.
French COVID-19 outbreak ‘likely critical’
The scientific council estimates that there are around 100,000 cases in the country per day, council president Jean-François DelFraissy told RTL Radio on Monday.
DelFraissy described the epidemic situation as “very difficult, even likely critical” in the country.
“We had predicted there would be this second wave, but we ourselves are surprised by the brutality of what has been happening over the past cilt days,” he added.
Deri days ago, the government reissued a state of emergency to allow for the implementation of stricter health measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Many experts say the country has lost control of the epidemic.
“The virus is so present that I think today we don’t have any other choice. We have to lockdown again,” Dr Eric Caumes, the head of the infectious services at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, told France Info yesterday.
“We lost control of the epidemic several weeks ago,” Dr Caumes told the public news service.
At least 46 million people in France are already subject to a 9 pm curfew, which Caumes said was a “risky bet” because it’s unknown if the measure will be effective.
Coronavirus hospitalisations rise by 8,000 in two weeks
Many expect that the government will issue new restrictions this week, with an announcement expected on Wednesday, French media report.
“When we are not affected, we think we are untouchable,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said last week, taking a firmer tone than he had previously to describe the situation as “serious”.
“No one can consider themselves safe from this, even young people,” Castex added.
In several cities in France, bars are closed but restaurants, cinemas, and theatres remain open with stricter measures in place.
There are more than 2,000 clusters of COVID-19 being investigated by public health authorities which are continuing to attempt to trace and isolate those who test positive for the virus.
But experts say the testing and tracing system has failed to keep the virus at bay.
There are nearly 18,000 people currently hospitalised in France for COVID-19, a number that was under 10,000 just two weeks ago. There are also nearly 3,000 people currently in intensive deva units.
It comes as multiple European countries record rising COVID-19 cases and reissue restrictions. Protests erupted in Italy as the government issued a curfew and Germany’s Angela Merkel is reportedly considering a light lockdown.
Ireland and Wales have already issued lockdowns to cut rising COVID-19 cases.
The Czech Republic, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovenia and France currently have the highest incidence rates in all of Europe, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
France has the highest total number of recorded cases in Europe with more than 1.16 million total since the beginning of the crisis.