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The French should avoid blockage as infections carry over 26,000: says PM

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PARIS (Reuters) – France must do everything possible to avoid a new blockade of the coronavirus as pressure on hospitals increases, 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 block in the face of rising numbers of cases.

Instead, it has imposed a nationwide curfew and weekend closures at 6 in two regions trying to contain explosions while major shopping malls have been asked to close.

We must use all available weapons to avoid a jam. “I have never hidden it, it allows us to be vaccinated, to be protected, to be tested,” said Prime Minister Jean Castex in an interview on the Twitch website.

The head of the public health service Jerome Salomon said earlier on Sunday that the blockade is not a taboo but it is not automatic despite the deteriorating health situation.

The health ministry announced on Sunday 26,343 new cases of COVID-19, up from 29,759 days ago, while the number of people who died from the virus rose by 140 to a total of 90,429.

Meanwhile, the number of people in intensive care units increased more by 57 to 4,127, while emergency resuscitation units were operating at almost 82% of capacity, the highest since the end of November when France was in its second blockade .

The situation is not improving, there is an increasing number of infections and hospitals are overcrowded with many patients, whose average age is declining and who do not always have concomitant diseases, Castex said.

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 ease pressure on hospitals in the capital.

Labor Minister Elizabeth Borne said on Sunday that she had tested positive for COVID-19 and would continue to work, the last senior French official to catch the virus.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas and Jean-Stephane Brosse; Editing by Edmund Blair and Jane Merriman

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