French health minister says would favour regional easing of lockdowns


FILE PHOTO: French Health Minister Olivier Veran speaks during a news conference on the current French government strategy for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, in Paris, France March 18, 2021. Martin Bureau/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - French health minister Olivier Veran would favour a region-by-region easing of lockdown measures set up to tackle the COVID-19 virus, he told regional paper Le Telegramme in an interview published on Tuesday.

Veran added that while there were signs that the latest surge in COVID-19 in France was starting to ease off a little, the virus was still circulating at a high level.

The health ministry said on Monday that 5,970 people were in intensive care units with COVID-19, up from 5,893 a day earlier, in a sign that hospitals remain under pressure.

France also reported 449 new COVID-19 deaths in hospitals, up from 140 on Sunday, taking the cumulative toll to 101,183 since the start of the pandemic.

President Emmanuel Macron's government is hoping that an acceleration of its vaccination campaign, combined with the one-month national lockdown in place since end-March, will help it regain control over the latest outbreak of the virus.

The government is considering easing the lockdown in May, provided it feels the COVID situation has improved enough to re-open some businesses and activities.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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