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Yesterday France reported a new post-lockdown high after a more than 5,000 new coronavirus infections were recorded. The total number of people infected with the deadly virus has now surpassed 200,000.
As the country continues to fight against the pandemic, Prime Minister Jean Castex has made face masks mandatory in all public places.
Although masks were already compulsory on public transport and enclosed spaces, the new measures will attempt to curb a new wave of infections.
Mr Castex did not give a date when the new measures will come into force.
But the Prime Minister revealed the R rate is now 1.4, which is well above the figure needed to keep the curve the infection level.
He said: “The epidemic is gaining territory, and now is the time to intervene.”
The government is planning to do everything it can to avoid another nationwide lockdown.
However, he warned the possibility could not be excluded and localised lockdowns may be on the cards.
Mr Castex revealed more than 800 patients are being admitted to hospital every week, an increase from 500 six weeks ago.
He also said the ‘positivity rate’, meaning the number of tests that come back positive, has also risen from one percent to 3.7 percent.
The introduction of mandatory masks in Paris marks the second French city to impose the rules.
Last week, Toulouse brought in new measures after officials feared a mass movement of people towards the end of the summer break will lead to a spike in infections.
From next month, office workers across France will have to wear masks in all enclosed work spaces.
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This move comes after employers were allowed to decide whether or not staff had to wear masks.
A group of medical experts condemned the move in an open letter in Liberation newspaper.
They said: “And the more the virus accumulates in the air – either because of a long exposure time or because of a large number of excreters – the more we risk contamination.”
So far more than 30,000 people have been killed by the virus in France.
President Emmanuel Macron urged anyone aged over 70, disabled or in poor health to stay at home and limit social contact as much as possible.
He said: “There is no such thing as zero risk in society.
“We need to respond to anxiety [over COVID-19] without giving into a zero-risk doctrine.”
In the UK, face masks are mandatory on all public transport and in all shops and supermarkets.
However, last month, various major supermarkets and retailers said they would not enforce the face mask rule.
The UK has the highest death toll across Europe after surpassing 40,000.
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