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Paris 'will propose' a three-week city lockdown to curb COVID-19 spike

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People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus walks at Trocadero plaza near Eiffel Tower in Paris, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021
People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus walks at Trocadero plaza near Eiffel Tower in Paris, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021   -   Copyright  Credit: AP
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Paris will propose a three-week city lockdown to the government in a bid to curb a recent spike in coronavirus infections, Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire told the broadcaster France Info on Thursday.

The announcement comes as the French capital was placed under increased surveillance due to deteriorating coronavirus indicators, along with more than a dozen other regions.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex, speaking before Grégoire, said additional measures, such as weekend lockdowns, could be implemented in Paris and 19 other regions if the situation continues to worsen.

It comes after regions around Dunkirk and Nice were this week placed on weekend lockdowns to push back against a spike in coronavirus cases.

"I asked the prefects to start consulting with elected officials in order (...) to consider, in all or part of these areas, protection measures similar to those implemented in Nice and Dunkirk," Prime Minister Castex said on Thursday afternoon.

The new restrictions, if confirmed, would enter into force on the weekend of March 6, he added.

But Grégoire said that the Paris City Hall preferred a short, full-scale lockdown with "the prospect of reopening everything in three weeks" rather than a weekend lockdown. The latter would be "very restrictive in terms of societal impact and not very effective in terms of health," the Deputy-Mayor said.

“The health situation of our country has worsened in recent days,” Castex said, citing the circulation of new variants as the main reason.

The so-called British variant now makes up “about half” of positive cases, up from 40% last week.

On Wednesday, authorities reported another 31,519 new cases of COVID-19 - a steep rise from the 25,018 cases from a week ago and a record high since mid-November.

New figures released on Thursday evening were not as alarming, with 25,403 new infections according to a French government website.

France has so far managed to avoid a third national lockdown, opting instead for border restrictions and a 6 pm to 6 am curfew.