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AFP
March 28, 2020

French PM warns ‘difficult’ days ahead

World

AFP
March 28, 2020

PARIS: French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe raised the alarm Friday over an "extremely high" surge in coronavirus cases in the country and warned things will be "difficult" in the coming days.

After 365 people died and more than 2,300 people were hospitalised in France in a single day, the military sent a plane Friday to evacuate six patients from the hard-hit east of the country where hospitals are overstretched. "We find ourselves in a crisis that will last, in a health situation that will not improve any time soon," Philippe said.

The premier warned the country must "remain extremely mobilised" in the fight against the epidemic that has so far officially claimed 1,696 lives. The toll is only for people who were hospitalised, not those who died at home or in old age facilities, which are badly affected by the outbreak.

Among the recent deaths was that of a 16-year-old girl, France´s youngest coronavirus victim to date. The country has some 14,000 coronavirus patients in hospital, with 548 placed in intensive care just Thursday. Over 3,375 are in a critical condition.

Having started in the country´s east, the epidemic is now spreading in the northernmost Hautes-de-France, the larger Paris region and other areas with "an extremely high surge that puts the entire healthcare system, the entire hospital system, under enormous pressure," Philippe said after a cabinet meeting held by videoconference.

"The situation will be difficult in the days to come," he added. On Thursday, the government used a high-speed TGV train to evacuate 20 patients from the Alsace region bordering Germany and Switzerland to help relieve overstretched facilities there, officials said.