France reported 541 more deaths from the coronavirus in hospitals over the last 24 hours today, bringing its total official toll to 10,869.
Top health official Jerome Salomon said 7,148 people were in intensive care, an increase of 17 from a day earlier, the lowest increase recorded in recent weeks.
There was no daily data available today from nursing homes, he said, due to a technical fault. This implies the overall toll could be incomplete.
It comes as the Government is to further extend its lockdown, with President Macron to address the French public again next week.
The confinement order – imposed on March 17 – ‘will be extended’ beyond its current limit of April 15, adding that Macron will address the nation on Monday evening to present the new decisions on the fight against the virus.
Only essential trips have been allowed during one of the most draconian lockdowns among Western countries, provided a signed piece of paper is presented.
Nurses take care of patients infected by the coronavirus going for an exam at the scanner unit at the Floreal clinic in Bagnolet, near Paris, amid the raging pandemic
There was no daily data available today from nursing homes. This implies the overall toll could be incomplete (pictured, woman wearing a face mask in Sceaux, south of Paris)
President Macron (pictured) takes part in a video conference with World Health Organisation general director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at the Elysee Palace in Paris
The WHO said over 1.3million people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus
France has the fourth highest coronavirus death toll in the world, behind Italy, Spain and the US, according to the latest figures.
The death toll from French hospitals was slightly lower than the comparable number from yesterday, which was recorded as 597.
Mr Salomon said the increase of the virus’ spread over recent days had been slowed because the lockdown was being largely observed.
‘The slowing seen over the last days is linked to your good respect of the confinement rules,’ he said at a press conference.
He expressed hope that France would see a flattening in its curve of cases in coming days but emphasised that this ‘plateau is at a very high level’.
Meanwhile the Government is working on a smartphone app that could warn users if they came into contact with a coronavirus carrier.
Patient infected by Covid-19 undergoes an electrocardiogram at the Floreal clinic in Bagnolet
Doctors operate a drive-through coronavirus testing site near the Eiffel Tower to test medical professionals for the coronavirus as the country endures a lockdown
Officials are exploring ways to end the restriction on movement, including contact-tracing apps, in a move sure to exercise human rights groups.
‘In the fight against Covid-19, technology can help,’ junior tech minister Cedric O, told Le Monde. ‘Nothing will be decided without a broad debate.’
Users would install the app – project titled StopCovid – on their mobile phones. It would notify all the people who have been in close contact they have been near someone who has identified themselves as positive.
French law forbids smartphone tracking, in contrast with countries like China, Taiwan and South Korea, which use smartphone location readings to trace the contacts of people who have tested positive to a virus or to enforce quarantine orders.
Nurses place a patient for an exam at the scanner unit at the Floreal clinic in Bagnolet
The issue has sparked a debate even within President Macron’s majority in parliament, with several lawmakers from his party warning they would vote against any move to use geo-tracking technology.
France and Germany, the EU’s two biggest economies, are now bracing for a painful recession as the pandemic crisis slashes output to the lowest levels in decades.
National outport in export powerhouse Germany is expected to shrink by nearly 10 per cent in the second quarter as shutdowns paralyse the global economy.
France is already in a technical recession, the Bank of France said, after official data showed the economy shrank 0.1 per cent in the last quarter of 2019.
Current estimates suggest the economy contracted six per cent in 2020. According to the central bank, France’s first-quarter performance was its worst since 1945.
A woman is examined by a doctor at an advanced Covid-19 medical station at the Saint Roch hospital, which houses a coronavirus testing centre, in Montpellier
Municipal police officers check documents as they patrol a street of Sceaux during lockdown
For every two weeks the country is locked down by the virus, the Bank of France said it expects the economy to shrink by 1.5 per cent.
French economic activity plunged a whopping 32 per cent in the last two weeks of March as the coronavirus crisis intensified, it added.
Bank of France governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau warned that April was expected to be ‘at least as bad’ as late March. ‘Economic growth will be strongly negative in 2020’ before bouncing back in 2021, he told RTL radio.
The French Government has promised a vast rescue package to cushion the coronavirus blow for companies and employees, as have other European capitals.
A man walks on a street in the business district of La Defense in downtown Paris
Coronavirus could spark the ‘deepest economic recession of our lifetimes’ with global trade down by a third in 2020, WTO warns
WTO logo against a traffic light in front of the WTO headquarters in Geneva
The coronavirus pandemic could spark the ‘deepest economic recession of our lifetimes’ with global trade expected to plummet by up to a third in 2020, the World Trade Organisation warned today.
‘World trade is expected to fall by between 13 per cent and 32 per cent in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts normal economic activity and life around the world,’ the WTO said in a statement.
There were a wide range of possibilities for how trade would be hit by the ‘unprecedented’ health crisis, it added.
However, WTO chief Roberto Azevedo warned the downturn ‘may well be the deepest economic recession or downturn of our lifetimes’.
WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo delivers a press conference in Geneva
In its main annual forecast, the 164-member WTO pointed out that trade had already been slowing in 2019, before the emergence of the novel coronavirus.
The virus has infected some 1.4million people since last year, killing more than 80,000 and forcing Governments to take radical measures.
More than half of humanity has been asked to stay at home and economic activity has ground to a virtual standstill in many places.
Global trade, already hit by trade tensions, is expected to register ‘double-digit declines in trade volumes’ in nearly all regions this year, the WTO said.
Mr Azevedo said in a statement: ‘The unavoidable declines in trade and output will have painful consequences for households and businesses, on top of the human suffering caused by the disease itself’.