French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (Front) leaves the Elysee Palace after a cabinet meeting on the COVID-19 in Paris, France, on Feb. 29, 2020. France has confirmed 73 cases of coronavirus infection by Saturday noon and the government has decided to impose stricter measures to contain its spreading, Minister of Health Olivier Veran announced. (Photo by Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua)
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (Front) leaves the Elysee Palace after a cabinet meeting on the COVID-19 in Paris, France, on Feb. 29, 2020. France has confirmed 73 cases of coronavirus infection by Saturday noon and the government has decided to impose stricter measures to contain its spreading, Minister of Health Olivier Veran announced. (Photo by Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua)

In a daily press conference about the novel coronavirus outbreak, French Health General Director Jerome Salomon announced 43 new cases of coronavirus in France on Saturday, taking to 100 the total of people affected since the end of January.

“This tally is due to an important cluster in l’Oise which has 36 cases,” Salomon said, adding that “it’s necessary to curb the virus’ evolution, slow its spread and protect areas with little or no infection.”

The infected people had either interacted with already known patients or traveled recently to zones of risk.

Early Saturday Health Minister Olivier Veran said “all gatherings of more than 5,000 people in confined spaces will be cancelled as well as “events in an open environment where people can mix with others from areas where the virus is possibly circulating.”

As a result, a Paris half-marathon that was due to be held on Sunday with more than 40,000 runners has been canceled, and the annual farm show will close a day early on Saturday.

In l’Oise, north France and the southeastern region of Haute-Savoie, where the largest two clusters had been detected, all gatherings will be banned and residents are advised to limit their journeys and switch to working from home if possible. In the country’s northern department, some 26,123 students had been recommended to stay at home as about 100 schools remained closed until further notice.

As the second stage in the epidemic has been reached with the virus circulating across French regions, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe stressed “our health system is solid and we have all weapons to cope (with the virus)”.

He added that border closures would be “useless” and placing cities into lockdown “does not meet the expected objectives.”

France, the first in Europe to detect the COVID-19 on Jan. 24, has reported two coronavirus deaths. 86 patients are in hospital, including 9 cases in critical situation, and 12 have been cured. Enditem

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