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The southern city of Nice banned gatherings of more than 10 people in public spaces and restricted bar opening hours on Friday as Frances public health agency warned that deaths from Covid-19 are rising again for the first time since the end of the countrys nationwide lockdown.

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France on Thursday registered almost 10,600 new infections, its highest daily count since the start of the pandemic. While the recent surge in cases mostly affected the young, infections are now growing fast among the over-75s, the health agency said in its weekly update.

Admissions to hospital and intensive care wards are also increasing, the agency added, warning that all coronavirus indicators are now worsening.

"For the first time since the lifting of the lockdown, we are seeing an increase in Covid-19 deaths," the agency said, adding that 265 people had died from the virus this week compared with 129 last week.

"The intensification of the spread of the virus among the oldest age group raises fears of the continuation of hospitalisations and deaths in the weeks to come," it said.

The number of new infections was down slightly — by eight percent — from the previous week. But the agency warned that this was likely an "underestimate" of infections due to saturation of testing capacity in certain regions.

There is growing concern in France about how hard it is to get a coronavirus test — especially in the Paris region — due to demand. Prime Minister Jean Castex admitted last week it had to do better.

"Not being able to test people (who may need quarantine)… may have an impact on the control of the outbreak," said Daniel Levy-Bruhl, head of the respiratory infections unit at the agency.

France's government has been criticised for its failure to authorise quick saliva tests for the virus, instead insisting on nasal tests that can take days to produce results because of backlogs in saturated French labs.

Saliva tests, which are common in other countries, finally obtained regulatory approval by France's drug watchdog on Friday.

Nice-PSG behind closed doors

As part of measures to curtail the surge in infections, Health Minister Olivier Véran announced on Thursday that tighter restrictions would be imposed in several cities, including Lyon and Read More – Source