French PM: No New Lockdown Despite COVID-19 Surge
French Prime Minister Jean Castex said Friday the government was not planning a new, nationwide lockdown in response to a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases this week. In a televised statement in Paris, following a meeting with the Defense Council, Castex acknowledged the COVID-19 situation has gotten worse, and he urged citizens to practice social distancing and wear masks. In addition, he said, the government would take steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. He said these measures would include fast-tracked testing for priority cases and giving local authorities the power to make some businesses reduce opening hours. But the French prime minister said they would not “put on hold our social, cultural and economic lives, the education of our children, and our capability to live normally.” The French government is under renewed pressure to curb the spread of the disease as health authorities Thursday reported 9,843 new confirmed coronavirus cases, a new record, topping the previous record of 8,975, set six days earlier. French health experts have called on the government to act to avoid a second wave of the virus. The head of the government’s scientific council, Jean-François Delfraissy, said Wednesday the government needs to make “a number of difficult decisions in the next 10 days.” In March, France imposed a strict lockdown. That succeeded in preventing the hospital system from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases, but it also dealt a severe blow to the economy. That lockdown was relaxed in early May.