Paris bars face possible closure as virus patients fill ICUs

PARIS (AP), France's Health Minister on Thursday has threatened to shutter bars and forbid family celebrations in Paris with COVID-19 patients filling about a third of intense treatment units.

Intensive care units often load virus patients in other areas of France, as the nation is already spreading to older and more fragile communities after more than two months with rising infections.

Although other countries have implemented new municipal lockdowns in order to tackle rebound incidents, the government in France is making an attempt to discourage that and is now taking more modest localized steps.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran warned that from Monday, a government will be able to classificate Paris and the neighboring suburbs as the 'highest region for alertness.'

The community size cap has not been fixed or the designation of a notification zone for the French Open, officially open to up to 1,000 spectators a day, can be identified.

In the middle of today's day to day demonstrations against bans on French cafes, Veran said restaurants could remain open —- if tight rules are enforced.

The highest degree of warning indicates 'the possibility of hospital congestion is high,' said Veran, because the authorities have revealed region-by-region data indicating that the amount of intensive care patients in certain places is increasing more quickly than was expected a month earlier by the government.

Paris is highly troubling, with 30-35% of ICU beds already filled by patients with viruses and hospitals suspending planned procedures in order to make way for COVID events.

Paris already has about 200 positive cases per 100,000 population per week and more than 100 positive cases per 100,000 seniors.

The condition in the capital is beginning to mimic that of Marseille's Mediterranean and Guadeloupe 's French Caribbean, where the government placed many of its restaurants and bars at a strong warning stage last week.

In Marseille, Bordeaux and Nice, Veran said that there are signs of slowing infection development.

But he said it is too early to increase the cap and that overall France is already "in the weakening process."

Over the last two weeks, France has reported more than 10,000 suspected cases a day and a total of 31,956 deaths linked with the outbreak, among Europe's highest death tolls.