France banned outdoor gatherings of more than six people as the 3rd wave of coronavirus infections peaked with a record 45,000 new cases on Thursday.

In his weekly address, Health Minister Olivier Veran said the epidemic situation was “not good in France.”

“The trend is accelerating almost everywhere,” he said, announcing restrictive measures in Aube, Nievre and Rhone taking the total of semi-confined administrative divisions to 19.

The diagnosis of 45,000 cases was last recorded in October when France announced a second lockdown. Veran, however, refuted the possibility of a third lockdown.

While the number of deaths in the last 24 hours was at 225, it is the new hospitalized patients that remains the main concern.

The situation remains most worrying in the northern areas of the Paris region of Ile-de-France, and the Hauts-de-France and Provence in the south, which has been witnessing increased hospital admissions.

The number of patients in intensive care units in Ile-de-France is at 1,407, 605 in Hauts-de-France and 505 in Marseille.

The admissions in the ICU majorly include younger patients many of whom are infected with the rapidly spreading variants.

Veran also expressed concern over transmissions in schools but said their closure nationally would be the last resort. Instead, authorities will carry screening campaigns.

In recent days, 105 primary schools have been closed across the country as an estimated 15,484 schoolchildren tested positive for coronavirus.

The main national union of primary teachers, has, however, threatened to go on a strike in Paris over the government’s failure to protect staff, the SNUipp-FSU said in a statement.

On the vaccination front, Veran appealed to health students and retired caregivers, health professionals to lend a hand as France seeks to speed-up the campaign.

According to the latest data, 13.6% of the adult population is vaccinated. A total of 7,168,437 (over 7.1 million) people have received at least one injection and 2,610,990 (over 2.6 million) have got both the shots. In total, 9,780,000 (nearly 9.8 million) doses have been administered since Dec. 27.

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