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HEALTH

France records 16,000 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours as restrictions tighten

France reported a new record for daily coronavirus infections on Thursday, a day after the government announced new restrictions on bars and restaurants in major cities which have provoked an outcry from local politicians and business owners.

France records 16,000 new Covid-19 cases in 24 hours as restrictions tighten
Photo: AFP

Figures from Public Health France showed that 16,096 people had tested positive for Covid-19 over the last 24 hours, a record – even though experts advise that testing during the first coronavirus wave in March-April captured only a fraction of cases.

In the same period 52 deaths in hospital from Covid-19 were reported.

The centrist government of President Emmanuel Macron announced a series of new measures on Wednesday to try to slow the spread of the disease, including the closure of all bars and restaurants in Marseille and earlier closing times in Paris and 10 other towns.

The new system assigns an alert level of each area, with different restrictions on daily life depending on the alert level. The alerts will be reviewed weekly.

EXPLAINED: How France's new Covid-19 alert system works

Faced with criticism from the mayors of Paris and Marseille, legal challenges and calls from some bar owners to defy the new orders, Prime Minister Jean Castex called for “responsibility”.

“What I don't want is that we go back to March,” he said, referring to one of the strictest national lockdowns in Europe in which French people were required to fill out forms to leave their homes.

Castex also admitted that he has not downloaded his own government's StopCovid contact tracing app.

“Yes I am pushing the French to use it, but I do not,” he said on France 2 television, explaining that since becoming prime minister in July, he “unfortunately” now crosses paths with fewer people, in particular no longer taking the Metro.

Paris hospital authority AP-HP said on Thursday that an influx of coronavirus patients was forcing it to start cancelling non-emergency surgery starting this weekend.

READ ALSO ANALYSIS: How France's most seriously ill Covid-19 patients are getting younger

The number of coronavirus patients in Paris hospitals had more than doubled in three weeks, from 150 to 330, and would probably reach 600 by month's end, said deputy director Francois Cremieux.

Numbers of Covid-19 patients in intensive care have followed a similar upward curve, from 50 three weeks ago to 132 on Wednesday and likely more than 200 by next week, he said.

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HEALTH

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday. 

Macron is seeking parliamentary allies to pass reforms after his formation lost its majority in legislative elections earlier this month.

The legal timeframe to terminate a pregnancy in France was extended from 12 to 14 weeks in the last legislature.

Changing the constitution requires the National Assembly and Senate to adopt the same text, then a three-fifths majority of parliament sitting in congress. The other option is a referendum.

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