French Prime Minister Jean Castex told the press on Thursday evening that the country’s lockdown will continue for the next 15 days without major changes. Many commentators had expected a tightening of the rules.

He started by reminding journalists that the second wave of coronavirus has been very serious.

One in four deaths in France is now due to coronavirus, and in the past week the number of daily deaths has been between 400 and 500 per day.

Forty percent of patients in ICU are less than 65 years old, and there is one coronavirus admission every 30 seconds.

France need to avoid a situation as in Italy in recent days where we could not admit coronavirus patients to hospital, he said.

Speaking of front-line medical workers he said: “They are tired. They are remarkable. They are all hands to the pump.”

However, there have been some encouraging figures about changes in behaviour. For example, there has been a 85 percent drop in long-distance train travel since the start of the second lockdown two weeks ago and many more people are working from home.

There has been a fragile improvement in cases and deaths in very recent days, the prime minister said.

It would be irresponsible to lift the measures currently in place. There will be a fifteen-day continuation of present regulations. The high schools will not close, but health regulations have been tightened.

The government is hoping that France will be able to enjoy the traditional end of year celebrations. However, Christmas and New Year will not be as in previous years, he said.

If there is a positive trend over the next two weeks there will be a loosening of the regulations on December 1. However, bars and restaurants will have to stay closed “until Christmas.”

Translated from French by NEWS.MC

PHOTO: PM Jean Castex Reuters