KEY POINTS

  • France has entered into its third national lockdown
  • COVID-19 patients in ICUs peak to 5,000 
  • All schools and non-essential shops closed for four weeks 

Schools and non-essential shops in France will remain closed for four weeks as a spike in COVID-19 cases overwhelmed hospitals across the country and triggered a third national lockdown.

On Friday, the number of serious COVID-19 patients in intensive care units rose by 145, which is considered to the biggest jump France has faced in five months, according to the BBC.

France is fighting a peak of over 5,000 COVID-19 patients in the intensive care units. The country recorded 46,677 new cases and 304 deaths on Friday.

On Saturday, France reported a total of 5,273 people that were in the Intensive Care Units (ICUs) for COVID-19 and the figure showed a rise of 19 from the previous day. 

Restrictions imposed on Saturday include a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m.

France prepared to enter a new month-long, limited lockdown from midnight Saturday after the country recorded its highest new caseload in nearly four months France prepared to enter a new month-long, limited lockdown from midnight Saturday after the country recorded its highest new caseload in nearly four months Photo: AFP / Ludovic MARIN French President Emmanuel Macron has assured more hospital beds for the COVID-19 patients.

From Tuesday onwards, people will be required a valid reason to travel more than 10 km (6 miles) from their homes.

Macron had hoped France's COVID-19 cases would be kept under control without having to impose the latest lockdown. But the country has struggled with several new strains of the virus. A delay in rollout of vaccines across the EU is another obstacle.

VACCINE ROLLOUT IN EUROPE

The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Friday, denounced Europe's "unacceptably slow" vaccine rollout. The WHO experts said that the situation in the region has now become worse than it was several months back.

President Emmanuel Macron consults with health experts as millions across France were preparing to enter a new month-long, limited lockdown from Saturday after the country recorded its highest new caseload in nearly four months. President Emmanuel Macron consults with health experts as millions across France were preparing to enter a new month-long, limited lockdown from Saturday after the country recorded its highest new caseload in nearly four months. Photo: POOL / Yoan VALAT Hans Kluge, WHO's director for Europe, released a statement in which he said that the vaccines are the best way to come out of this pandemic but the rollout of the vaccines is "unacceptably slow".

"We must speed up the process by ramping up manufacturing, reducing barriers to administering vaccines, and using every single vial we have in stock, now," he said.

He added that the EU countries would have to impose lockdowns and other measures to compensate for delayed vaccines.

As per the WHO, only 10% of the nearly 900 million people in the region have had a single dose of coronavirus vaccine.