France urges caution as COVID-19 cases continue to rise


France saw yet another uptick in coronavirus cases Sunday as its health minister stressed that things are unlikely to return to normal anytime soon, with the country also struggling to recover from a series of attacks.

Official data showed that new cases rose by 46,290, with the total now standing at over 1.4 million.

Some 231 new fatalities were also reported, taking the country’s tally to 37,019.

Sunday's hospitalizations were reported at 17,450, a rise of 585 over the past 24 hours, with 2,507 of those patients remaining in intensive care, up by 98 from Saturday.

Health Minister Olivier Veran has warned that this Christmas “will not be a normal holiday” and cautioned against making plans for any big New Year’s parties.

France started a new lockdown on Friday, which is to stay in place until Dec. 1.

Some 96 departments remain in a vulnerable position, with 2,448 clusters of infection around the country considered serious.

Worldwide, the death toll from COVID-19 has reached nearly 1.2 million since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December last year while the number of infections stands at over 46 million, according to the latest figures from US-based Johns Hopkins University.

France has endured a rash of brutal terror attacks over the past few weeks.

To maintain security at its highest level, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Sunday evening that he would raise the national security alert system -- known as the Vigipirate plan -- to "attack alert" from the level of “emergency alert” where it was placed last week.

The terror incidents include the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty on Oct. 16, the stabbing deaths of three people in Nice on Thursday and the shooting and wounding of a Greek Orthodox priest in front of his church on Saturday evening.

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