French health authorities warned Thursday that new coronavirus cases were rising fastest among younger people, as the number of confirmed infections per day continued to tick up.
In mainland France, the pace of growth in cases in the week of August 3-9 was fastest among people aged 15-44, the health ministry’s DGS public health arm said, calling it a “troubling situation”.
In total 2,669 tests had come back positive in the past 24 hours, it added, pointing to “regular growth” in daily new cases.
The figure was higher than Wednesday’s 2,524, which itself had been the highest since May.
Among the new infections were 50 gendarmes based in Tarbes, southwest France, out of a group of 82 who had just returned from a deployment in Polynesia, the prefecture in the Hautes-Pyrenees department said.
Richard Peabody, an epidemiologist leading the High Threat Pathogens Team at the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, warned that laxer respect for infection control measures was leading to increased case numbers across the continent.
“If you take… the pressure off the virus, then it will come back,” he said, calling on European governments to be mindful of the lessons learnt in the first months of the pandemic.
Prime Minister Jean Castex struck a similar tone on Tuesday, warning that Covid-19 could get out of hand if people do not take precautions: “If we don’t act collectively, we expose ourselves to the heightened risk that the rebound in the epidemic becomes hard to control,” he said during a visit to an intensive care ward in southern France.
Face masks became mandatory in outdoor Paris tourist hotspots on Monday as authorities try to curb the number of new infections. The order covers busy outdoor areas in the French capital including the banks of the River Seine and the iconic Montmartre area in Paris’s far north – although other renowned tourist hotspots such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Élysées were not listed. Anybody over age 11 faces a €135 fine if caught without a mask where one is required.
The latest uptick in Covid-19 cases has been most marked in Paris but some other cities including Nice, Toulouse, Biarritz, Marseille and Lille have already ordered people to wear masks outdoors. Several coastal towns popular with tourists – including Le Touquet in the Calais region, Saint-Malo on Brittany’s northern coast and La Rochelle on the Atlantic coast – have done the same.
So far almost 30,400 people have died of coronavirus in France — 17 in the past 24 hours — and 374 are presently in intensive care.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)