Coronavirus cases top 10,000 in France, death toll at 372

Source:Xinhua Published: 2020/3/20 7:15:10

A notice of the closure of the Eiffel Tower, as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, is seen in Paris, France, on March 14, 2020. Photo by Jack Chan/Xinhua

One hundred and eight COVID-19 patients had died in 24 hours in France, taking the country's death toll to 372, and total confirmed cases to 10,995, Director-General of Health Jerome Salomon said Thursday in a daily update.

Compared to Wednesday, 1,861 new positive cases were detected. A total of 4,761 people are now hospitalized, including 1,122 in intensive care, Salomon said.

Some 1,300 have recovered. The number of daily tests exceeds 4,000. "We have now approached a total of 50,000 tests," he added.

"We have a spreading epidemic that continues to worsen with rapid and intense viral circulation across the national territory. The objective is very clear, which is to mitigate and offset the effects on the doctors and hospital capacity," said Salomon.

"Infection cases double every four days. The virus is spreading rapidly and intensely," said Salomon. As in past days, he urged the French people to strictly respect the confinement order and cut contacts with others to minimum to curb the spread of the virus.

"The more we respect the rules, the more we can contain the outbreak," he added. "It is really a collective fight."

France was in its third day of national lockdown on Thursday. Only journeys for professional and health reasons or to buy foods are allowed.

Earlier in the day, President Emmanuel Macron deplored that "too many" people "take lightly" the confinement rules that came into effect from Tuesday at midday.

"When I see that people continue to go to the park, to the beach or in the open markets, it means they did not understand the messages passed by the authorities," said Macron on the sidelines of a visit to the Institut Pasteur in Paris.

Local authorities on Thursday issued orders banning access to beaches throughout the Mediterranean arc, Corsica and many regions of the Atlantic coast.

The stringent movement restriction would likely be prolonged beyond its initial two-week period, said Macron.

"Today no one can say how long it will be necessary to cut social contact," he said. "Should the containment be reinforced? Should it be extended? Possibly. Will we have to impose it during other periods? Probably. Because we don't know how many waves we will have and how the virus will behave."

On the shortage of surgical masks for health workers, Salomon said that in total 35 million masks have been delivered to healthcare establishments and professionals since the outbreak of the epidemic.

He added that 6 million masks are produced each week in France, a production in "rapid progression."

At 8 p.m. Thursday evening, and at the same time on Wednesday, French people took to their balconies and windows to applaud the country's medical staff.

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