France registers nearly 9,000 daily coronavirus cases

France reports record Covid-19 cases of nearly 9,000 over the past 24 hours on Friday, the highest daily figure since the pandemic swept into the country in March, news wires reported. The total of 8,975 daily Covid-19 infections announced  by the country's health agency came as authorities have increased testing capacities nationwide, but the caseload was still sharply above the 7,000 average seen in recent days.

In addition, 53 new outbreak clusters were reported, and 46 patients were placed in intensive care, bringing the current total to 473. As of 1 September, France has registered 30,661 coronavirus deaths, according to the Sante Publique France health agency. It said the "R" rate of viral transmission remains at 1.3 nationwide, meaning 10 infected people are infecting 13 others on average. While more than 90 percent of fatal cases involve people over 65, "transmission is mainly among young adults", Sante Publique said.

The latest figures come as the French education ministry on Friday said 22 schools were closed across France and its overseas territories due to Covid-19 outbreaks, just days after some 12 million students returned to school earlier this week.

Paris and other cities have started requiring face masks in all public areas, including for children above 11 who returned to school this week. But residents in some cities have been pushing back, seeking eased mask rules in public, for example at night or in areas where crowds do not generally gather, France24 reported.

On Friday, a court in the southeastern city of Lyon ordered the authorities to soften the rules to take "local circumstances" into account, though for now the strict requirement remains in effect.

In France, anyone can access a Covid-19 test for free and usually without an appointment. However testing sites in Paris have been dogged with long waiting times this week, with holidaymakers returning home after summer vacations.

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