France extends its stay-at-home coronavirus lockdown until at least April 15 as PM warns: ‘We are only at the beginning of the epidemic’
- Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced further restrictions for the French
- Lockdown started on March 17 but Macron warned that it could be prolonged
- France has now seen 29,591 infections and 1,696 deaths due to the coronavirus
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
France has extended its stay-at-home lockdown until at least April 15 in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The strict rules are for all non-essential employees and will also mean continued widespread business closures, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Friday.
‘In agreement with the president, today I’m announcing the renewal of the confinement period for two more weeks,’ Philippe said at the Elysee presidential palace.
‘Obviously this period will be extended again if conditions require it,’ he added.
France has extended its stay-at-home lockdown until at least April 15 in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. Pictured: a man has his temperature taken in Paris today
As he left the meeting of French government ministers, he announced: ‘It is clear that we are only at the beginning of the epidemic wave.’
He explained that the wave that has submerged the Grand Est region of France for several days is arriving in the Île-de-France and Hauts de France.
The same rules that have been in place up till now will continue to be implemented in the extended lockdown period.
France began its lockdown on March 17, initially for 15 days, although President Emmanuel Macron was clear that this was a minimum and it could be extended.
The strict rules are for all non-essential employees and will also mean continued widespread business closures, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (pictured) said Friday
Earlier this week the specialist scientific council that advises the government recommended that a six-week lockdown was needed to ensure that the health services could cope with the demand for beds and care.
It comes as today it was revealed that a 16-year-old French schoolgirl with no underlying medical condition died from coronavirus.
She is believed to be the youngest victim in Europe.
France’s prime minister also warned today that a likely spike in cases will put the country’s health system under ‘tremendous strain’.
France has now seen 29,591 infections and 1,696 deaths. Pictured: an empty street in Paris today
Officials fear that hospitals around Paris could be saturated within 48 hours.
France has so far avoided scenes seen in other European countries such as Spain and Italy – the worst-hit nations on the continent with the world’s highest death tolls.
But on Thursday France recorded its highest death toll – 365 – and number of new infections – 3,922 – in a single day. It has now seen 29,591 infections and 1,696 deaths.
Frédéric Valletoux, president of the French Hospitals Federation, said patients will have to be transferred to hospitals outside the capital because they could become overwhelmed within in two days.
He said: ‘If we leave each hospital to fend for itself, each territory caught up in the epidemic to fend for itself, we are headed for disasters.’
French president Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he had discussed the crisis with Donald Trump during a late-night phone call, posting: ‘Very good discussion with @realDonaldTrump. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, we are preparing with other countries a new strong initiative in the coming days.’
The country has some 14,000 coronavirus patients in hospital, with 548 in intensive care.