France plans masks at work as daily COVID-19 cases surpass 3,000
PARIS: France is to propose that masks be worn in shared workspaces as the country grapples with a rebound in coronavirus cases that rose again in the past 24 hours to over 3,000.
The health ministry reported 3,310 new coronavirus infections, marking a post-lockdown high for the fourth day in a row.
The number of clusters being investigated increased by 17 to 252, it said in a website update.
The resurgence prompted Britain to impose a 14-day quarantine for people arriving from France, and led the authorities in Paris to expand zones in the capital where wearing a mask is mandatory outdoors.
Employment Minister Elisabeth Borne said she would propose on Tuesday at talks with employer and union representatives that masks be compulsory in collective workspaces.
"A theme that appears in all scientific opinions is the value of wearing them (masks) when there are several people in a confined space," Borne said in an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
Doctors have increasingly called for masks to be required in the workplace while the HCSP, a body advising the government on health policy, issued a recommendation calling for masks to be compulsory in all common indoor spaces.
This week's upswing has taken the seven-day moving average of new infections above the 2,000 threshold for the first time since April, when France was in the middle of one of Europe's strictest lockdowns.
The number of people in hospital has trended downwards in recent weeks even as new COVID-19 cases have risen, with experts pointing to the spread of the virus among younger people.
However, the latest daily figures showed a slight rise in the number of hospital patients, at 4,857 against 4,828 a day earlier, as well as a rise in intensive care patients to 376 from 367.