PARIS

Paris is on the brink of a maximum alert level as coronavirus numbers in the capital continue to rise.

France’s Health Ministry has established three levels that determine a region’s risk in the COVID-19 crisis.

Over the last 24 hours, 12,845 more cases were reported bringing the nationwide count to 563,535, according to the Health Ministry.

There were 64 more fatalities reported on Thursday significantly up from earlier in the week.

The death toll currently stands at 31,956.

The real marker of risk is the virus’s incidence rate, or the number of cases that have arisen out of 100,000 people. Paris currently has 253 cases out of 100,000.

Three criteria issued by the government will now decide whether a maximum alert can be applied to any territory. It includes the overall number of infections, the number of cases in vulnerable people, and the number of intensive care beds available.

Paris has met all three criteria.

France’s other major cities of Toulouse, Lyon, Lille, and Grenoble have also seen numbers skyrocket.

Health Minister Olivier Veran and Prime Minister Jean Castex met on Thursday with the mayors of those cities to discuss “possible adaptations” of new measures.

Those measures included a decree for the closing of all restaurants and bars by 10 p.m. local time (2100GMT) and the total closure of all restaurants and bars in the Aix-Marseille region for two weeks. Sports centers too are to be closed and public gatherings are limited to 10 people.

It is feared in Paris that surging numbers could shutter restaurants, cafes, and bars completely for the foreseeable future since social distancing continues to be lax.

As of Wednesday, the virus hit the one million mark worldwide in 188 countries with the number of infections reported at just over 34 million, according to the latest figures from US-based Johns Hopkins University.

On Thursday, France’s prestigious National Institute of Health and Medical Research called for volunteers to step forward to test burgeoning vaccines.

Currently, there are 300 in the testing stages worldwide; in order to come to market, any potential treatment must run through a human trial to prove its veracity.

Veran will address the nation in his weekly briefing Thursday evening at 6 p.m. local time (1700GMT).

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