As new variants spread in France, some want a 3rd lockdown

New virus variants are spreading fast in multiple regions of France, prompting a curfew crackdown around the English Channel coast, and growing calls for a new lockdown in the east

The regional administration ordered tougher mask rules and urged people in Dunkirk and some other areas not to leave town to limit the spread. The city’s saturated hospitals are sending COVID-19 patients to other regions amid a spike in the number of people needing intensive care.

The variant dominant in Britain was detected in nearly a quarter of all cases across northern France and 20% of cases in the Paris region in late January, according to the agency’s latest data.

Figures released Friday by France’s largest network of private medical labs, Biogroup, suggest the variant has already spread quickly since then: The group says the variant showed up in about half of its tests Feb. 1-7 in the western Paris region.

Biogroup also found a jump in cases of the variant first identified in South Africa in three regions of eastern France. In the Moselle region, the variant was found in nearly one-third of positive tests during the first week of February, Biogroup said.

Health Minister Olivier Veran went to the region Friday and promised stepped-up testing and vaccinations, but the government has resisted calls from some local doctors and leaders for a new lockdown.

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