French minister says some regions may face extra coronavirus measures

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FILE PHOTO: A woman is carried on a stretcher to the COVID-19 vaccination centre during a visit by French Health Minister at the South Ile-de-France Hospital Group, in Melun

PARIS (Reuters) - The rapid spread of coronavirus infections in and around the French Mediterranean city of Nice will require further restrictions on movement, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Saturday.

Veran said decisions about possibly further tightening limits on people's movements will be taken over the weekend.

"There are a few cities and areas in France where the virus is circulating much more quickly than elsewhere and this may require regional confinement measures," Veran said during a visit to a health centre in Nice.

The French government has used local curfews and lockdowns in other areas but has generally preferred nationwide measures.

"If the government decides we need to go to a partial lockdown, for instance each weekend, I will support it and encourage it," said Christian Estrosi, the conservative mayor of Nice, who accompanied Veran on his visit.

Following its second national lockdown in November, France imposed a nationwide 8 p.m. curfew, which was tightened to 6 p.m. in mid-January.

Veran said that the nationwide trend of coronavirus infections had worsened in recent days.

France reported 24,116 new infections on Friday, an increase of nearly 4,000 on the previous Friday. The seven-day average of new infections rose above 19,000 per day after falling to about 18,300 a week ago.

France also reported 571 new deaths from the virus, taking the cumulative death toll to nearly 84,000.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Mike Harrison)