France reports 47,637 coronavirus cases on eve of lockdown

PARIS, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- France registered 47,637 cases of coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours, bringing the accumulative total to over 1.28 million on the eve of a national lockdown to stem the brutal second wave of the epidemic, according to official figures released on Thursday.

The human loss caused by the virus now stood at 36,020, up by 235 in one day. A total of 21,183 infected patients are hospitalized, including 3,156 in intensive care, up by 975 and 111 respectively.

Earlier in the afternoon, France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, endorsed by a large majority a return to nationwide confinement to bring the coronavirus epidemic under control.

Starting from Thursday midnight, the country's 67 million inhabitants will be locked down until at least early December. People are allowed to go out for work if they cannot do their job at home, to buy essential goods, or for health emergency and an hour of exercise daily.

University students are called to switch to online learning. Non-essential shops including bars, cafes, gyms and restaurants will close their doors. Private meetings and public gatherings are banned and cultural ceremonies and conferences are suspended.

But unlike March-May confinement, visits to elderly nursing homes are allowed. Nurseries, primary and middle schools as well as public institutions will remain open with reinforced health protocol. School children aged six and over must wear masks in class. Previously mask-wearing was compulsory for kids over 10 years.

In addition, factories will keep operating, while construction and farming activities are maintained. Support measures to help businesses overcome the re-confinement amount to 15 billion euros per month, Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday.

As the world is caught in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries including France, Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States are racing to find a vaccine. According to the website of the World Health Organization, as of Oct. 19, there were 198 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 44 of them were in clinical trials.

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