France’s top scientific body on Tuesday said a second wave of the coronavirus was “highly likely” this autumn or winter as the country grapples with a marked increase of new cases of the disease over the past two weeks.
“France has the situation under control but it is precarious with a surge of virus circulation this summer. The short term future of the pandemic mainly lies in the hands of the population,” the scientific committee on the disease said in a statement published by the Health Ministry’s website.
“It is highly likely that we will experience a second epidemic wave this autumn or winter,” the statement added.
France has been seeing an uptick in coronavirus infections and hundreds of new clusters in recent weeks, notably as young people gather at cafés or parties and families meet up for summer vacation.
The country has reported 7,000 new cases in the last week, after bringing the virus nearly under control with a strict two-month nationwide lockdown that ran from March 17 to May 11.
On Monday, rules on wearing masks outdoors took effect in the hardest-hit areas, the latest move to tighten coronavirus restrictions after a nationwide decree last month required people to wear masks in all indoor public places.
Beach resorts along France’s Atlantic coast, picturesque promenades along the Loire River and farmers’ markets in the Alps are among the areas of France where people are now required to wear masks outdoors. Masks are also required in large parts of the southern French city of Nice, including the tourist boulevard, the Promenade des Anglais.
Prime Minister Jean Castex visited Lille on Monday to take stock of the resurgence of the virus in the northern city, where wearing a mask is mandatory in many open public spaces. Pressure is now growing on Castex’s government to mandate the use of masks outdoors nationwide.
French officials have confirmed 30,265 virus-related deaths since the pandemic began, one of Europe’s highest death tolls.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)