The numbers of deaths in France of people diagnosed with Covid-19 is trending upwards for the first time since the end of a nationwide lockdown, the public health agency said Friday, warning that all coronavirus indicators were now worsening.
While a recent surge of infections mostly affected the young, infections are also growing fast among people over 75.
Admissions to hospital and intensive care wards are also increasing, the health agency said.
"For the first time since the lifting of the (March-May) lockdown, we are seeing an increase in Covid-19 deaths," the agency said in its weekly update, saying 265 people had died from the virus this week compared with 129 the previous week.
"The intensification of the spread of the virus among the oldest age group raises fears of the continuation of hospitalisations and deaths in the weeks to come," it warned.
The number of new infections was down slightly -- by eight percent -- from the previous week. But the agency cautioned that this was likely an "underestimate" of infections due to saturation of testing capacity in certain regions.
There is growing concern in France about how hard it is to get a coronavirus test -- especially in the Paris region -- because of heavy demand. Prime Minister Jean Castex admitted last week the government had to do better.
"Not being able to test people (who may need quarantine)... may have an impact on the control of the outbreak," said Daniel Levy-Bruhl, head of the respiratory infections unit at the agency.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday that France is preparing tighter restrictions in several cities to curtail a surge in Covid-19 cases after daily infections topped 10,000 twice over the last week.
The French Riviera city of Nice, still basking in a late Mediterranean summer, on Friday announced restrictions including a maximum of 10 people allowed to gather in its parks and on its beaches.
It will be forbidden to buy or consume alcohol in public in the city after 8:00 pm while bars can no longer open all night.
Authorities in Paris on Friday also urged people to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, in public as well as in private homes, because of a "significant worsening" of the outbreak.
The capital's annual "Neighbours Party," usually an evening of lively courtyard dinners, should also be called off unless people strictly observe social distancing measures, they said.
And in Roanne, southest France, six retirement home residents died of the virus and 40 others tested positive after a case was detected last week, the regional health authority said Friday.
Overall, 68 outbreak clusters were found in French retirement homes last week, nearly double the number of the week before.
According to the latest figures, the pandemic has claimed the lives of 31,095 people in France.
Despite the alarming figures, Castex last week steered clear of announcing new nationwide restrictions, saying the French should use caution and "succeed in living with this virus."