A steady trickle of people trooped through a COVID-19 testing centre in Paris on Thursday (November 5) where staff say they fear a government-imposed lockdown will not be effective enough, with up to a fifth of patients receiving positive results.
Doctor Paul Berrebi told Reuters that since France’s first shutdown in the spring testing had become more widespread but that a situation where the same patients took risks then came back for repeat tests was not sustainable.
The new lockdown measures have forced the closure of non-essential shops – such as those not selling basic foods or medicines – imposed home working for those who can and required people to use signed documents to justify being out on the streets.
While Paris residents including Victor Tretyakov said the right balance was being struck between public health and personal freedom, French authorities said there were still too many people out in the capital late at night.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo told BFM TV that the city would be placed under more restrictions to curb the worsening pandemic, including a requirement for more shops to close in the evening.
She said this would entail shutting down certain shops selling takeaway food and drink at 10 p.m. local time, which would come on top of the existing national lockdown that has been imposed throughout France.
A French government source told Reuters this week that they had noted in Paris “clandestine parties, raves, private dinners”, and felt stricter measures were needed.
The president of the regional council Valerie Pecresse on Thursday unveiled a new mobile testing centre in a portacabin in front of one of the city’s major transport hubs at the Gare de Lyon saying widespread testing was the only way to beat the pandemic, particularly in identifying asymptomatic cases.
On Wednesday, France reported 40,558 new COVID-19 cases and a further 385 deaths, taking the country’s total death toll from COVID to 38,674 while the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stands at around 1.5 million.