French nursing home sees 9 deaths in one week as coronavirus returns

PARIS (AP) — Nine people with the virus died over the past week in a single nursing home in eastern France, and other French care homes are shutting their doors as the country battles a new rise in COVID-19 infections.

The Les Sablons home in the town of Pulnoy tested its 135 residents and staff after a first case was found Aug. 3, and 34 tested positive, the home’s director Daniel Cilla told regional media.

By Sunday, nine residents with the virus had died, he said.

While more than 10,000 people with the virus died in French nursing homes in the first wave of the pandemic, the Les Sablons home hadn't registered a single case until this month, according to the regional health agency.

Pulnoy Mayor Marc Ogiez, speaking on BFM television, blamed the outbreak on waning vigilance by families amid the vacation season, and a sense among many in France this summer that the virus crisis was over.

The health agency issued an online appeal Monday for reinforced medical staff for hospitals and nursing homes in the Grand-Est region, which was the first in France to be badly hit by the virus in March.

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Several other nursing homes around France have closed their doors anew after reporting virus cases in recent days, families told The Associated Press.

Infections have been speeding up around France in recent days, with 3,015 new cases Sunday, one of the highest daily jumps since the country lifted as strict two-month lockdown in May. Some 263 virus clusters are currently under investigation, many linked to workplaces, family vacation gatherings or dance parties.

The government is sending riot police to the Marseille region to help enforce mask requirements, as more and more French towns and neighborhoods are imposing mask rules. France has seen scattered incidents of violence involving people refusing to wear masks.

More than 30,400 people with the virus have died in France, one of the highest death tolls in the world.