France bans public gatherings of more than 5,000 people as coronavirus cases soa

France has banned public gatherings of more than 5,000 people following a surge in new coronavirus cases.

The French government reported 16 new cases on Saturday.

Following a cabinet meeting health Minister Olivier Veran announced: ‘All public gatherings of more than 5,000 people in a confined space are temporarily banned across France.’

Among those cancelled is the Paris half-marathon, which would have hosted more than 40,000 runners on Sunday.

Public gatherings are being outlawed completely in the Oise region north of Paris that has seen a cluster of cases, and in a town in the Alps that has also seen infections, Mr Veran said.

As of Saturday, France had registered a total of 73 cases, up from 57 on Friday.

Of those, 59 people remain hospitalized, two have died and 12 have recovered, the minister said.

It is unclear when the temporary ban will be lifted.

In Italy, schools and universities will stay closed for a second consecutive week in three northern regions in an effort to contain Europe’s worst outbreak of the deadly bug.

Five Serie A games were also postponed in bid to contain the virus’ spread.

Pope Francis also cancelled official engagements for the third day in a row on Saturday as he battled an apparent cold after showing his support for people with coronavirus while meeting well-wishers in Rome.

The NHS confirmed three new UK cases on Saturday following the return of two people from Italy and another from Asia. It brings the total number of positive UK cases to 23.

Professor Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, said: ‘All three are being investigated and contact tracing has begun. One case is from Gloucestershire, one from Hertfordshire and one from Berkshire.’

This is a breaking news story – updates to follow.

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