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French President Macron announces new lockdown to curb COVID-19

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PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced tough new measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Below are highlights of what he said in a televised address to the nation:

“The virus is circulating at a speed that not even the most pessimistic forecasts had anticipated .... Like all our neighbours, we are submerged by the sudden acceleration of the virus, by a virus which seems to gather in strength as the winter approaches and the temperature falls.

“We are all in the same position: overrun by a second wave which we know will be harder, more deadly than the first. At this stage, we know that whatever we do, nearly 9,000 patients will be in intensive care by mid-November, which is nearly all of the French capacity.”

“If today we don’t put brutally apply the brakes on this contamination, our hospitals will soon be overrun, without us being able to transfer people from one region to another because the virus is everywhere.”

“I have decided that we need to return to the lockdown which stopped the virus... This applies to all our national territory, apart from some modifications for regions and territories that are overseas.”

“As in the spring, you will we be able to leave your home only to work, do go to a medical appointment, to render assistance to someone close to you, to make essential purchases, and to exercise close to your home.”

“This lockdown will be different in three main ways: schools will stay open, work will continue, care homes and old peoples’ homes can be visited.”

“My dear compatriots. We have all been surprised by the sudden acceleration of the virus. All of us. While I know the fatigue, and the feeling that this will never end that affects all of us, we must, whatever happens, stay united and together and not give in to the poison of division... I have faith in us, in you, faith in our ability to overcome this challenge... We will get over this if we are united, and we are united.”

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Michel Rose, Elizabeth Pineau and Christian Lowe; Editing by Lisa Shumaker