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4 French MPs hospitalized with coronavirus; large public gatherings banned nationwide

Three more deaths raise the toll to 19 in France as confirmed cases of infection rise almost 20 percent in a day.
IMAGE: Pharmacy in Creil, France
A sign reads "No more masks, no more hydroalcoholic gel" on the doors of a pharmacy in Creil, in northern France, on Friday.AP

The French government banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people Sunday after three more people died and four members of the National Assembly were confirmed to have tested positive, authorities said.

France last week banned gatherings of more than 5,000 people in confined spaces. The new restrictions expand the ban nationwide, Health Minister Olivier Véran said at a news conference, Reuters reported.

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"The priority is to do all we can to slow the transmission of the virus," said Véran, who said the order doesn't apply to public transportation or to gatherings for school exams or political demonstrations.

National health authorities announced Sunday afternoon, meanwhile, that three more people have died, raising the national total to 19, from among 1,126 confirmed cases of infection. The number of confirmed cases rose by 336 in just the past day, they said, a spike of more than 18 percent in 24 hours.

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Four of them are members of the National Assembly, health authorities in the district surrounding Paris said Sunday night, in addition to two staffers at the national capital. All were in confinement, and people suspected of having had contact with them have been made aware, officials said.

Authorities said the country remains at "stage 2" of containment procedures, focused on limiting infection and secondary cases.

Nancy Ing contributed.