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Paris Bars Face Possible Closure As Virus Patients Fill ICUs

Naguey drinks a final beer with his cat Nela before bars and restaurants close, in Marseille, southern France, Sunday Sept. 27, 2020. As restaurants and bars in Marseille prepared Sunday to shut down for a week as part of scattered new French virus restrictions, Health Minister Olivier Veran insisted that the country plans no fresh lockdowns. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Naguey drinks a final beer with his cat Nela before bars and restaurants close, in Marseille, southern France, Sunday Sept. 27, 2020. As restaurants and bars in Marseille prepared Sunday to shut down for a week as part of scattered new French virus restrictions, Health Minister Olivier Veran insisted that the country plans no fresh lockdowns. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

With COVID19 patients now filling about onethird of the intensive care units in the Paris area, Frances health minister threatened Thursday to close bars and ban family gatherings, if the situation doesnt improve.

PARIS: With COVID-19 patients now filling about one-third of the intensive care units in the Paris area, Frances health minister threatened Thursday to close bars and ban family gatherings, if the situation doesnt improve.

Intensive care units in other regions of France are also filling up with virus patients, as more than two months of increasing infections have now spread to the country’s elderly and vulnerable populations.

But while other countries have imposed new localized lockdowns to fight rebounding cases, Frances government is taking pains to avoid that and adopting relatively modest localized measures instead.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran warned that the government could classify Paris and nearby suburbs as a maximum alert zone starting Monday, leading to measures such as shutting bars and banning family parties or other big gatherings.

He didnt set a limit on group sizes or indicate what the alert zone designation might mean for the French Open, currently under way on Paris western edge and open to up to 1,000 spectators per day.

Amid now-daily protests against virus restrictions on French cafes, Veran said restaurants might be able to stay open — if they impose tighter rules.

The maximum alert level means that the risk of hospital saturation is very high, Veran said, as authorities unveiled region-by-region data showing that the number of patients in intensive care in some areas is rising faster than the government predicted a month ago.

The Paris region looks especially worrying, with 30-35% of ICU beds now occupied by virus patients, and hospitals delaying some scheduled surgeries to make space for COVID cases, the health minister said. Paris is now registering nearly 200 positive cases per 100,000 people per week, and more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 elderly people.

The situation in the capital is starting to resemble that of the Mediterranean city of Marseille and the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, where all restaurants and bars were shut down after the government put them at the maximum alert level last week.

Veran said there are signs that the infection growth is slowing in Marseille, Bordeaux and Nice. But he said it is too early to lift restrictions, and that France overall is still in the phase of an aggravation of the situation.

France has been recording more than 10,000 new confirmed cases a day for the past two weeks, and has reported a total of 31,956 virus-related deaths, among the highest tolls in Europe.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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