reported 35,000 new coronavirus cases, according to a New York Times database — one of the highest numbers since November, when a second wave of infection forced the entire country into lockdown. The country’s slow inoculation campaign, further set back by a temporary suspension of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, has not helped.
French officials said they would resume AstraZeneca vaccinations as soon as possible — they said that France’s national health authority had recommended the doses only for people age 55 and older. A very small number of cases of blood clotting have occurred in people younger than that.
Health Minister Olivier Véran welcomed the move. “Thank you to all of our doctors and pharmacists who as of today are going to mobilize to continue the vaccination campaign,” he said in a tweet.
Germany, Italy and Spain, said on Thursday that they would resume using the AstraZeneca vaccine, within hours of the European Medicines Agency declaring it safe. Norway said it would await further study.
But officials worry that a fearful public may not be easily reassured.
Coronavirus infections in France rose 24 percent from the previous week. The variant first identified in Britain now represents three-quarters of new cases.
The Paris region has borne the brunt of it. Last week, health officials in Paris ordered hospitals to cancel many of their procedures to make room for Covid-19 patients. And this week some patients were transferred to other regions to ease the pressure on hospitals.
France has been under a nighttime curfew since mid-January, with restaurants, cafes and museums remaining closed. Making a calculated gamble, the government tried to tighten restrictions just enough to stave off a third wave of infections without taking more severe steps that might hurt the economy.
But as infections started to increase in late February, the government imposed new lockdowns on weekends in the French Riviera, the famed strip along the Mediterranean coast, and in the area surrounding the northern port of Dunkirk. Officials made clear that more lockdowns might follow in other regions.
The new restrictions will affect about a third of the population, though they don’t go as far as those imposed a year ago, at the start of the epidemic.
Primary schools and secondary schools will remain open, and the rules for high schools and universities will remain much the same, with attendance limited to prevent infections. People will also be allowed to take walks and exercise with no time limit.
Though nonessential shops will close, the definition of essential has been expanded to include bookshops and music shops.
Bruno Riou, the head of the crisis center for Paris public hospitals, said a lockdown was the only remaining option to prevent more deaths, given that less than 9 percent of the population has received at least a first vaccination dose.