French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday, October 14, that a large area of the country will be placed under a nightly 21:00 to 06:00 (local time) curfew to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) from Saturday, October 17. The additional measures will be in effect for at least four weeks and will include the greater Paris region, Marseille, Toulouse, Montpellier, Rouen, as well as four other cities where restrictions have recently been tightened. Anyone caught in violation of the curfew will be subject to a fine of 135 euros (USD 159). A state of health emergency, which expired three months ago, will also be renewed although details have yet to be made public.
The French government imposed tighter restrictions in Lyon (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region), Lille (Hauts-de-France region), Grenoble (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region), and Saint-Étienne (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region) on October 10 due to rising COVID-19 cases. The four cities are in zones of maximum alert with restaurants and bars closed for at least two weeks. Gyms and swimming pools are also likely closed and other public venues are required to operate under strict hygiene protocols. A ban on gatherings of more than ten people and a limit of 1000 attendees at organized events will remain in place in these areas. Gatherings are also restricted in cities in enhanced alert zones (one level below maximum alert), including Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nice, Rennes, Rouen, and Toulouse.
Amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases, Paris' hospitals moved into emergency mode on Thursday, October 8, as COVID-19 patients took up more than half of all intensive care beds in the capital.
Face masks are mandatory nationwide in enclosed public spaces, including workplaces. A number of local jurisdictions, including Paris, have also mandated the wearing of face masks in outdoor public spaces. Most businesses and services outside the maximum alert zones are permitted to operate, provided they comply with hygiene and social distancing requirements.
As of October 14, the total number of confirmed cases in France stands at 820,017 with 33,056 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on the skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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