Home World France Covid panic: Thousands escape Paris before strict lockdown starts

France Covid panic: Thousands escape Paris before strict lockdown starts


The French government has announced Paris, and the wider Île-de-France region, will be under strict lockdown from midnight. France is battling a third wave of Covid-19 with cases surging across the country.

In total lockdowns have been imposed on 16 French regions which have a population of 21 million.

Before the restrictions come into effect large numbers are leaving Paris for other parts of the country.

Italian news site Ultima Ora reports after prime minister Jean Castex announced the new shutdown it became “almost impossible” to book tickets on France’s SNCF rail service towards Brittany or the French Basque Country.

The site also claims the cost of a flight to Corsica has increased three fold to 600 Euros (£514).

Pictures of packed trains leaving the French capital have been going viral on social media.

The SNCF railway revealed it has twice as many reservations for today as Thursday and will be carefully managing the influx of passengers.

Those in locked down areas will not be allowed to travel to other parts of France without a valid reason.

Non-essential shops are being closed whilst a national night time curfew remains in force.

READ MORE: Coronavirus new strain – Five signs you have a COVID-19 headache

The country has vaccinated just over 10 percent of its population versus 40 percent for the UK.

Vaccines for EU member states were purchased centrally by the European Commission which has been widely criticised for failing to secure enough supply.

On Friday France lifted its temporary ban on the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine but only for those aged 55 and over.

The European Medicines Agency announced on Thursday it is safe and effective to use.

France, and a number of other European countries, suspended use of the Oxford vaccine following a tiny number of blood clots.

Investigators have yet to find any clear links between the vaccine and blood clots.

On Thursday Mr Castex, the French prime minister, admitted a “third wave” of coronavirus across the country looks increasingly likely.

Paris has been suffering particularly badly with some patients transported from its overflowing hospitals to other parts of France by air.

According to French health minister Olivier Veran there are currently 1,200 people in Paris intensive care wards, more than during November 2020.

Professor Neil Ferguson has warned Britain may have to impose additional restrictions on travel with France to prevent the spread of the South African coronavirus variant, which is more resistant to vaccines.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.


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