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French President Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images

France is requiring schools nationwide to close for three weeks and is imposing a domestic travel ban to help control the "accelerating" coronavirus pandemic, President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday.

Driving the news: It's the third lockdown for the country since the pandemic began, and a departure from the recent regional approach. The move comes as Europe battles a third wave of the coronavirus, driven in part by more transmissible variants.

Details: Nursery, elementary and high schools must close for at least three weeks, starting next week. Some will move to remote learning for a week before going on a two-week holiday.

  • Macron announced a month-long domestic travel ban, per AP.
  • Measures already in place in several regions, including Paris, will be extended to the entire country. All nonessential shops must close starting Saturday, per the BBC.
  • The nationwide 7pm to 6am curfew, which has been in place since January, will also remain.
  • Parliament will debate the measures before voting Thursday, the BBC reports, citing the prime minister's office.

What he's saying: “We will lose control if we do not move now,” Macron said in a televised address, per Reuters.

  • “It is the best solution to slow down the virus,” he said, adding "the epidemic is accelerating.”
  • “If we stay united in the coming weeks ... then we will see light at the end of the tunnel."

By the numbers: Daily new COVID-19 cases in France have doubled since February to nearly 40,000, per Reuters.

  • The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has surpassed 5,000, which is more than the peak number of people in ICUs during a six-week-long lockdown late last year, Reuters reported.
  • The country has so far recorded more than 4.6 million COVID-19 cases and over 95,500 deaths since the pandemic began, per Johns Hopkins University data.

Go deeper

Updated 20 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas — Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements.
  3. Politics: Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Mark Milley tests positive for COVID-19 — Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health."
  4. Economy: Report: World's 10 richest men doubled wealth during pandemicAmerica's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic.
  5. States: America struggles to keep schools open — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers.
  6. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — French parliament passes COVID vaccine passport legislation.
  7. Variant tracker
Mar 31, 2021 - Health

COVID-19 was the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

COVID-19 was an underlying cause associated with approximately 345,000 deaths during 2020, making it the third-leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer, two new CDC reports on preliminary mortality data show.

Why it matters: The estimated death rate increased by nearly 16% from 2019, with mortality highest among older people, men or people from disproportionately affected racial and ethnic minority groups.

Mar 31, 2021 - Health

Advocates warn: The clock is ticking on new variants

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some experts say the world may only have a year or less to stave off a new round of COVID-19 variants that could evade the existing vaccines, according to survey conducted by advocates trying to speed up vaccinations in developing nations.

Why it matters: Variants emerge when viruses spread widely, so quickly vaccinating the entire world is the best way to curb new variants. But some experts are afraid we won't get there fast enough.