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Curfew descends upon Paris amid virus surge concerns

World

Night curfews will be imposed in Paris and other major French cities as a second wave of coronavirus cases surge in Europe and the UK.

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France will impose a nightly curfew on almost one third of the country’s 67 million people to tackle a resurgent coronavirus but a new country-wide lockdown is not envisaged, President Emmanuel Macron says.

Macron announced the curfews, which will take effect from Saturday and run from 9pm to 6am, shortly after the government declared a new public health state of emergency.

The president said curfews would be imposed in the greater Paris region, Marseille, Toulouse, Montpellier and five other cities.

“We have to react,” Macron said in an interview on television.

Macron said France had not lost control of the virus but added: “We are in a worrying situation.”

France reported 22,591 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the third time in six days the daily tally has gone beyond the 20,000 threshold.

The virus has claimed more than 32,000 lives in France.

The state of emergency hands officials greater powers to impose new restrictions.

Italy’s coronavirus crisis has reached a new level as daily infections rose to 7332, the highest figure since the start of the pandemic.

The previous daily record was 6557, recorded on March 21.

“It is clearly a situation that cannot but worry us, that cannot but lead us to respect all the (virus containment) rules,” Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told reporters during a visit to Capri.

Over the past two weeks, there has been a surge in the daily infection figures, which have risen from below 2000 in late September to more than 5900 on Tuesday.

Italy has now reported a total of 372,799 infections.

Its overall death toll has risen by 43 and stands at 36,289, according to the Civil Protection Agency.

The government responded to the increase with a raft of new measures including making face masks mandatory when outdoors, banning parties and closing bars and restaurants earlier than usual.

Northern Ireland has announced the strictest COVID-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom since June, closing schools for two weeks, restaurants for four weeks and leading Ireland to tighten curbs in bordering counties.

The British-ruled region of Northern Ireland has become one of Europe’s biggest COVID-19 hotspots in recent weeks.

Its health minister described the situation last Friday as becoming graver by the hour.

The health department reported a record amount of daily cases on Wednesday with 1217 new infections bringing the number of cases per 100,000 people in the past seven days to 356.

Four more deaths were also announced.

“We do not take this step lightly … the COVID transmission rates must be turned down or we will be in a very difficult place very soon indeed,” First Minister Arlene Foster told the regional parliament.

The closure will affect the entire hospitality sector, except takeaway and delivery services, and double the length of the October school break from one week to two.

Under the measures, retail will remain open but “close contact services” such as hairdressers and beauticians will be closed.

People will be advised to avoid unnecessary travel and work from home, while universities will be asked to teach remotely as far as possible.

The United Kingdom as a whole has been reporting record numbers of daily infections and the highest number of deaths since early summer.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a new tiered system of restrictions for England on Monday, with Liverpool and the surrounding Merseyside region in the highest level.

-with AAP

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