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France must not drop guard against COVID-19, minister says

FILE PHOTO: People, wearing protective face masks, walk inside the Westfield Forum des Halles shopping centre in Paris as France enforces mask-wearing in enclosed public spaces as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) across the country, July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s health minister urged the country on Wednesday not to drop its guard against COVID-19, saying it faced a long battle and that observing social distancing rules was vital to avoiding a new national lockdown.

France reported 14 new deaths from the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, a figure twice as high as the daily average increase of seven seen over the previous week. A total of 30,223 have now died of COVID-19 in France, health authorities said.

“We are not facing a second wave, the epidemic is continuing... Some people do not respect the rules. We must not let down our guard,” Health Minister Olivier Veran told LCI television.

“We do not want to resort to another lockdown, we are examining the situation on a case-by-case basis. The war is not over... People must understand that we are going to live with this virus for a fairly long time.”

Veran was asked whether he would advise against going on holiday in the Brittany resort of Quiberon after a COVID-19 cluster was reported there last week and local authorities ordered a night curfew for beaches.

“On Quiberon, there is a cluster of about 50 people. We are looking at the situation. It will depending on the spread of the virus. If we need to take other measures, we will take them,” he said.

The Quiberon prefecture later said there were now 72 confirmed cases, mostly people aged 18 to 25.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Alex Richardson and Timothy Heritage