France has reached the same daily level of coronavirus cases as when its lockdown began easing on May 11, Health Minister Olivier Veran told the French newspaper Le Parisien in an interview Sunday.
He said the country is not yet in a second wave of the pandemic, but cases are rising sharply.
“We have seen, for a few days, the number of positive cases rise sharply while it has been falling for 13 weeks. It has reached the same daily level today as when the confinement was lifted,” Veran told Le Parisien.
Surge in young patients: Veran said screening has shown a large number of patients are younger than the previous wave, and in a tweet Sunday appealed to young people in particular to maintain vigilant.
“The rate of asymptomatics is extremely high. This is particularly the case in Ile-de-France where we see young people arriving who have been infected without knowing how,” Veran told the newspaper.
Possibility of local lockdowns: French Prime Minister Jean Castex said Saturday that he wants to avoid a national lockdown at all costs because it would have a too negative impact, socially and economically. He suggested France could instead have localized lockdowns, as have been used in Germany and the UK.
On Friday, the Health Ministry said the coronavirus reproductive rate in France has risen to 1.3.
“With a number of daily cases exceeding 1,000, we have returned to levels comparable to those at the end of the confinement period. We have thus erased a good part of the progress that we had made in the first weeks of deconfinement,” a press release from the Ministry said, adding that “the virus is circulating throughout the country.”
France has had more than 217,000 confirmed infections and more than 30,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The French Health Ministry has now scrapped the charge for coronavirus PCR tests, which determines if someone is infected with Covid-19, to encourage more people to get tested.
The French government announced last week it will distribute 40 million face masks to the poorest citizens after mask wearing was made compulsory in all indoor spaces in the country.