As summer temperatures spiked above 40C in France last week, it appeared the coronavirus pandemic was the last thing on some people’s minds.
The scorching heat that’s swept the capital, Paris, and other parts of the country has coincided with a concerning uptick in cases which has now left health authorities fearing the worst.
On Wednesday (local time), the country recorded 2,524 new coronavirus cases – its highest daily total since lifting its lockdown in May and the fourth time in the last six days cases have spiked above 2,000.
Alarming images from the Canal de l'Ourq in Paris on Sunday show dozens of swimmers soaking up the sun with little thought for social distancing as they cram onto the water’s edge.
Another photo shows scores of tourists queuing for the iconic Louvre art gallery and while they are wearing masks, again social distancing appears to have been neglected.
"We're at a tipping point... We're going to mobilise police forces to make checks," government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday.
The seven-day moving average of new infections, which smoothes out daily data-reporting irregularities, increased to 1,810, the highest level since April 24, when the epidemic was still in full swing and France was under a strict lockdown.
The seven-day average, which set a high of 4,537 on April 1, has now been above 1,000 for two weeks.
Fears young adults are driving force behind latest surge
French authorities are now desperately trying to curtail the outbreak and are pushing a nationwide mask enforcement as droves of tourists travel across the country during the nation’s beloved summer holidays.
The health ministry said it was evident the pandemic had “clearly worsened” and it was “imperative” to act now.
While masks in indoor spaces were already mandatory, Paris and France’s second biggest city Marseille have now made masks compulsory in busier outdoor areas.
In the glamorous French Riviera resort of Saint-Tropez, where several restaurants have closed due to infections, masks are mandatory in all public spaces, mirroring the move made by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
Health authorities fear young adults are now the driving force behind its latest surge and are calling on people to limit social interaction.
Organisers of the rescheduled Paris Marathon have now confirmed the event in November will now be cancelled.
The daily death toll increased by 18 on Wednesday to 30,371, compared to an increase of 14 on Tuesday and a seven-day moving average of nine.
France has now recorded a total of 206,696 cases of the virus.
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