French infections rise, Spain cracks down on nightclubs

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Bathers enjoy the beach in Cadiz, south of Spain, on Friday, July 24, 2020. With the coronavirus rebounding in parts of Spain, it appears that several regions have not adequately prepared to trace new infections in what was supposed to be an early detection system to prevent a new cascade of cases. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

BEIJING – France’s coronavirus infection rate crept higher Saturday and Spain cracked down on nightlife but German authorities were confident enough to send a cruise ship out to sea with 1,200 passengers for a weekend test of how the cruise industry can begin to resume.

French health authorities said the closely watched “R” gauge is now up to 1.3, suggesting that infected people are contaminating 1.3 other people on average. That means the virus still has enough victims to keep on going instead of petering out.

France's daily new infections are also rising — up to 1,130 on Friday. Health authorities warned that the country is going backward in its battle against the pandemic, which has already killed at least 30,195 people in the country and that infection indicators now resemble those seen in May, when France was coming out of its strict two-month lockdown.

“We have thus erased much of the progress that we’d achieved in the first weeks of lockdown-easing,” health authorities said, adding that the French appear to be letting down their guard during their summer vacations and those testing positive are making less of an effort to self-isolate.

They appealed for a return to “collective discipline,” asking people to work from home and get tested if they have any suspicions of infection.

In Spain, Catalonia became the latest region to crack down on nightlife, trying to tamp down on new infection clusters. The wealthy northeast region home to Barcelona ordered all nightclubs to close for 15 days and put a midnight curfew on bars in the greater Barcelona area and other towns around Lleida that have become contagion hot zones.

Spain has reported over 900 new daily infections for the last two days as authorities warn that the country that lost over 28,000 lives before getting its outbreak under control could be facing the start of a second major outbreak.

Despite the concerns, some European countries kept up their gradual reopenings Saturday.