Coronavirus live news: Ireland to reopen schools; France investigates cruise ship deaths

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The number of patients treated in intensive care units for Covid-19 in France has reached a 12-week peak of 3,435, as regional officials urge for a ban on public gatherings and consider a partial weekend lockdown.

Unlike some of its European neighbours, France has resisted a new national lockdown to control more contagious variants, hoping a curfew in place since 15 December can contain the pandemic.

The country ended its second national lockdown, which ran from 30 October to 15 December. But one of the conditions for the switch from lockdown to a national curfew was that the ICU figures remained between 2,500 and 3,000.

France reported 20,064 new Covid-19 cases, up from the previous Tuesday’s 19,590. The seven-day moving average of cases remained above 20,000 for the third day in a row, at 20,109, the highest since 20,466 on 5 February.

The northern port city of Dunkirk is urging the government to impose a ban on all public gatherings there until 15 March as a “last chance” move to halt a surge in Covid-19 infections.

Dunkirk’s mayor Patrice Vergriete did not advocate a partial weekend lockdown such as in the Mediterranean city of Nice, but added he would not oppose it if the government imposed such a measure.

The health minister Olivier Veran will head to Dunkirk on Wednesday…

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