France has recorded two consecutive days of over 18,000 new coronavirus cases as authorities scramble to impose new restrictions and stem the tide of infection. Despite this, public transport is still dangerously overcrowded.

Some 18,129 new Covid-19 infections were reported on Thursday, the day after Wednesday’s all-time high of 18,746.

Disturbing eyewitness video purports to show extreme overcrowding on public transport, despite health authorities’ pleas to maintain social distancing, even at home.

The cities of Lyon, Lille, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne will be placed on maximum alert with additional restrictions taking effect over the coming weekend while Paris, Marseille and Guadeloupe are already on maximum alert.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Toulouse and Montpellier are showing worrying increases and may also be moved to maximum alert early next week unless case numbers stabilize.

“The health situation in France, alas, is continuing to worsen,” he said. “Every day in France, more and more people are being infected, more and more are falling ill, and more and more are suffering serious effects that require hospitalization.”

Veran once again called for the public to adhere to social distancing, even at home, following a worrying number of transmissions from the young to elderly or vulnerable family members.

Hospitals in the Paris region have been placed on emergency mode with staff vacations canceled and non-essential operations postponed, as coronavirus patients once again fill up intensive care unit beds.

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The country’s death toll now stands at over 32,520, with severe restrictions already introduced in the past few days as bars, casinos and exhibitions have been ordered to close in many areas, while restaurants, cinemas and museums face stricter controls than the past few months.

The French government has been loath to place the country back into lockdown as concerns remain about the economy.

“The health situation continues to deteriorate in France,” Veran said. “The health situation and the economic situation are two sides of the same coin.” (RT)