PARIS, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- The French government announced on Friday that the nationwide curfew to contain the coronavirus epidemic will be brought forward by two hours in 15 regions worst hit by the infections.
Starting from Saturday, the curfew imposed in these regions -- mostly in the northeast and southeast -- will start from 6 p.m., instead of 8 p.m. in force in other parts of the country, said government spokesman Gabriel Attal.
"The virus continues to circulate in France...with a disparity between regions," said Attal when announcing the move on television channel TF1.
"In a week, we will take stock of the effects (of the measures) and the circulation of the virus" and this restriction will be be reassessed, he said.
If the situation were to deteriorate further in certain territories, necessary decisions will be taken, he added.
As of Thursday, France has the fifth highest COVID-19 infections cases in the world, at 2,620,425 in total, with a death toll of 64,632.
The country went into its first lockdown from March to May, followed by another less strict one from Oct. 30 to Dec. 14. Businesses are now open, although restaurants, bars and cinemas remain closed. A nationwide nighttime curfew is in place to stem the spread of the disease.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 232 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 60 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Dec. 29.