French ICU patients with Covid at 12-week high
The number of patients treated in intensive care units for Covid-19 in France has reached a 12-week peak of 3,435, as regional officials urge for a ban on public gatherings and consider a partial weekend lockdown.
Unlike some of its European neighbours, France has resisted a new national lockdown to control more contagious variants, hoping a curfew in place since 15 December can contain the pandemic.
The country ended its second national lockdown, which ran from 30 October to 15 December. But one of the conditions for the switch from lockdown to a national curfew was that the ICU figures remained between 2,500 and 3,000.
France reported 20,064 new Covid-19 cases, up from the previous Tuesday’s 19,590. The seven-day moving average of cases remained above 20,000 for the third day in a row, at 20,109, the highest since 20,466 on 5 February.
The northern port city of Dunkirk is urging the government to impose a ban on all public gatherings there until 15 March as a “last chance” move to halt a surge in Covid-19 infections.
Dunkirk’s mayor Patrice Vergriete did not advocate a partial weekend lockdown such as in the Mediterranean city of Nice, but added he would not oppose it if the government imposed such a measure.
The health minister Olivier Veran will head to Dunkirk on Wednesday.
The total cumulative number of cases in France rose to 3.63 million, the sixth highest in the world. The number of people who have died from Covid-19 infections rose by 431 to 85,044 – the seventh highest death toll globally – versus a seven-day moving average of 319, a more than one-and-a half month low.
WHO says global deaths down 20% since last week; cases declining for six straight weeks
The World Health Organization says that global deaths from coronavirus-related complications have declined by 20% in the last week, with cases dropping for the sixth consecutive week worldwide. Deaths have been falling for three consecutive weeks.
In a statement, the WHO said:
The number of global new cases reported continues to fall for the sixth consecutive week, with 2.4 million new cases last week, an 11% decline compared to the previous week.
The number of new deaths also continues to fall for the previous three weeks, with nearly 66 000 new deaths reported last week, a 20% decline as compared to the previous week. This brings the global cumulative numbers to 110.7 million cases and over 2.4 million deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Hello and welcome to today’s live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with me, Helen Sullivan.
I’ll be bringing you the latest updates for the next few hours – as always, you can find me on Twitter @helenrsullivan.
The World Health Organization says that global deaths from coronavirus-related complications have declined by 20% in the last week, with cases dropping for the sixth consecutive week worldwide.
We’ll have more on that shortly – here, meanwhile, are the other key developments:
- Scotland is to look to begin a “substantial” easing of coronavirus restrictions from 26 April, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said.
- Ireland is to start reopening some schools next week but is extending other lockdown restrictions until April to prevent another explosion in Covid-19 cases.
- The Netherlands is expected to announce a slight easing of restrictions, allowing schools and hairdressers to reopen (see 3.19pm).
- Israel announced it would send a “token amount” of surplus coronavirus jobs to several countries (see 2.50pm), in the latest move to suggest limited global supplies will lead to a new form of diplomatic currency.
- Spain extends its ban on arrivals from Britain, Brazil and South Africa until 16 March to safeguard against the spread of new coronavirus strains from these countries.
- Greek hospital doctors went on strike and dozens marched in Athens to protest “suffocating” conditions at hospitals during the pandemic.
- Chinese officials did “little” in terms of epidemiological investigations into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in Wuhan in the first eight months after the outbreak, according to an internal World Health Organization document.
- French investigators probe manslaughter allegations against Italy’s Costa Cruises over its handling of Covid-19 cases onboard one of its ships, which claimed the lives of three passengers.
- Ten orangutans were airlifted back to their natural habitat on Indonesia’s Borneo island, in the first release of the apes into the wild for a year due to the dangers of coronavirus infection.