France reports 81 Covid-19 deaths as situation worsens in Paris

France on Monday confirmed 81 new Covid-19 deaths in the country's hospitals over the last 24 hours, while new figures suggested the situation in Paris was deteriorating meaning the capital could be heading towards tighter restrictions in the near future.

France reports 81 Covid-19 deaths as situation worsens in Paris
Hospitals across France have reported an increase in new Covid-19 patients the past few weeks. Photo: AFP

France's Covid-19 hospital numbers continued to increase on Monday – although figures are often higher on Mondays as some cases are under-reported over the weekend – as public health agency Santé Public France confirmed 4,069 new Covid-19 patients in one day.

Of these, 137 were patients ill enough to be admitted into intensive care units.

In total, France's hospitals in Monday counted 6,397 patients, of which 1,558 were in intensive care units. 

While representing a large increase since this summer, the numbers were low compared to the over 32,000 hospital patients registered at the height of the pandemic in mid April.

IN NUMBERS: Covid-19 deaths, cases and hospital patients in France


But authorities remain wary of the past few weeks' rapid rise, especially in hotspot areas such as Paris and the other 11 “high risk” cities.

In the southern port city of Marseille, the hardest hit area in the Bouches-du-Rhône département which has the most intensive care patients in the country (120), bars and restaurants were ordered to close their doors on Sunday, as part of new government measures to attempt to limit the spread of the virus before hospitals become overwhelmed.

Situation in Paris worsens

In the capital, where bars had to shut their doors at 10pm on Monday as new restrictions came into force, hospitals told French media that they would have to start to reschedule planned surgeries due to the increased Covid-19 patient flow.

IN DETAIL: New Covid-19 restrictions in the 12 'high risk' French cities 

“The number of beds dedicated to the care of other patients is shrinking and we still haven't got to the winter season, where usually all intensive care services are saturated by patients with respiratory difficulties due to influenza, etc,” Bruno Megarbane, who heads the intensive care units at the Paris Lariboisière hosptial told BFMTV.

Paris and its suburbs were particularly hard hit by the virus' first wave of infections in March and authorities remain wary of the current situations as infections flare.

Regional health authority ARS Île-de-France also told French media their regional intensive care units were filling up with Covid-19 patients who now occupied 30 percent of their regional intensive care units capacities (344 out of roughly 1,040 beds). 

In the greater Paris region Ile-de-France, the incidence rate was 156.8 new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants on Monday.

However, the capital – not including the suburbs – had an incidence rate of 254 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and of 95 per 100,000 among those in the age group 60-69.

That means the capital is approaching the government's threshold to qualify as an area on “maximum alert,” the second highest level in the alert system the French government created to clamp down on the accelerated spread of the virus across the country.
The decision to place an area on maximum alert is taken by the government and is based on several factors. 

The first of those is recording an infection rate above 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and a very high level of spread among elderly (above 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants).

The third criteria to be classed as an area on “maximum alert” is the situation in an area's hospitals – including having more than  30 percent of hospital beds taken up by Covid-19 patients.

In maximum alert areas all bars and restaurants have been completely shut down for a minimum period of two weeks.

Defied rules

Only Marseille and overseas territory Guadeloupe were labelled “maximum alert” areas when health minister Olivier Véran presented the new system last Wednesday, however the situation will be reviewed weekly and Paris has seen numbers deteriorate this week.

EXPLAINED How does France's new Covid-19 alert system work?

In Marseille, some bar and restaurant owners defied the new rules on Monday and kept open at the risk of being fined.


In Paris, some gyms – which also had to close down in all the 11 cities on “heightened alert” – also refused to close their doors, saying the government's targeting of their business was unfair.

Restaurants in the capital can keep open later than 10pm as long as they do not serve alcohol without meals. If the capital gets bumped up one alert level, all bars and restaurants must close down completely for at least two weeks.

The government will review the situation on Wednesday.







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Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

With a sharp rise in reported cases in recent weeks, France appears to be in the middle of a new wave of Covid infections - so what measures are the government taking to control it?

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

Recorded case numbers in France are now over 50,000 a week, and have been since the beginning of June – this is a long way short of the 350,000 weekly cases recorded in January but still the highest since May and representing a steady an increase of 57 percent on the previous week.

Hospital admissions are also on the rise – standing at 707 admissions on Friday, June 24th compared to 400 daily admissions just two weeks earlier.

So what is the French government doing about it?

Since March, almost all Covid-related restrictions have been lifted in France – the health pass is no longer required for everyday activities such as visiting a bar or going to the gym and face masks are now merely advised in all indoor locations. Only hospitals and other health establishments such as nursing homes still have mandatory rules on face masks and health passes.

For international travel, fully vaccinated arrivals from most countries – including the UK, US and the whole of the EU – need only to show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travellers need to show proof of a recent negative Covid test – full details HERE.

Health pass

A proposed bill from the health ministry that was leaked to French media talks about re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire (health pass) to get numbers under control.

Some caveats to add here is that the document is only a proposal at this stage and the government has explicitly rules out – for the moment – reintroducing the vaccine pass. The health pass can be used to show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, so it is less restrictive for the unvaccinated.

The document suggests re-introducing a health pass for travel – both to and from France – not for everyday activities like going to a café.

Testing and contact tracing

The bill also proposes extending the software involved in contact tracing and the Covid testing programme until March 2023, although this is described as a ‘precaution’.

Testing remains available on a walk-in basis at most French pharmacies and by appointment at health centres and medical labs. Tests are free for fully-vaccinated residents of France who have a carte vitale. Those are only visiting France, who are not registered in the French health system or who are not vaccinated have to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

READ ALSO How tourists in France can get a Covid test


The government’s Covid vaccine adviser Alain Fischer told France Info that he was in favour of making face masks compulsory on public transport again and said it is ‘being discussed” at government level.

At present masks are not required, but are recommended, especially on busy services where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

Epidemiologist Pascal Crépey said: “In crowded trains, the risk of being in the presence of infected people is high. It would be a good idea for the population to wear the mask, to protect especially the most fragile and avoid massive infection rates.”

Local measures

French local authorities also have the power to impose certain types of restrictions if their area has a particularly high rate of infections.

At present, none have done so, but Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has spoken in favour of possibly bringing back the vaccine pass over the summer.

Second booster shots

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to all over 60s and anyone who has a long-term medical condition or who is otherwise at risk from Covid.

It is recommended that the government increase public messaging advising those in high risk groups to get the second booster shot. The medical regular HAS has advised combining second booster shots with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign in September and October.

France is not, at present, considering widening the campaign to the entire popular, but the EU’s vaccine commissioner Thierry Breton says that if necessary, there would be enough doses to cover the whole population.