Issued on: 23/02/2021 – 12:16

French Health Minister Olivier Véran will head to Dunkirk in northern France on Wednesday as the government eyes new measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the region, the prime minister’s office said on Tuesday.

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Prime Minister Jean Castex had discussed the local health situation earlier on Tuesday with the mayor of Dunkirk, a coastal city of 92,000 near the Belgian border.

“They agreed that in view of the sharp deterioration in health indicators in recent hours, additional measures to limit the epidemic must be taken,” the statement said.

Dunkirk Mayor Patrice Vergriete had requested the conversation with Castex to “examine urgently” the situation in his city. Vergriete had said the Dunkirk area is weathering an incidence rate of 901 cases per week of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to a national average of 202.

Nationwide, the number of people being treated in intensive care units in France for Covid-19 reached 3,407 on Monday, exceeding 3,400 for the first time since December 3, while the average increase in new cases reached a 17-day peak.

Nice under weekend lockdown

The new figures were published after the Alpes-Maritimes region, which includes Nice in the South of France, on Monday announced a partial lockdown over the next two weekends of the coastal area between Menton and Théoule to fight a surge in infections.

Unlike some of its neighbours, France has resisted a new lockdown to control more contagious variants, hoping a curfew in place since December 15 can contain the pandemic.

Over the weekend, Véran said the nationwide trend in infections had worsened in recent days.

The seven-day moving average of cases remained above 20,000 for the second day in a row on Monday, at 20,041, the highest since 20,466 on February 5.

The cumulative total of cases increased to 3.61 million, the sixth-highest in the world.

The number of people in France who have died from Covid-19 has reached nearly 85,000, the seventh-highest death toll globally.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)