French government scientific advisers have recommended a total of six weeks’ lockdown, a suggestion president Emmanuel Macron and his ministers are considering but seem reluctant to announce at this moment, Kim Willsher, the Guardian’s Paris correspondent, reports.
France is carrying out 9,000 tests for the virus every day. Jérôme Salomon, director of the country’s health authority, has said this will be increased by an additional 10,000 by the end of this week.
A further 10,000 tests should be available next week. France has asked all private and public hospitals to join the coronavirus battle and has increased the number of intensive care ventilator beds from 5,000 to 8,000.
The military hospital sent to Alsace in eastern France is now up and running and Macron is planning a visit today. The situation in the region, where there is a coronavirus cluster, is described as “critical”. Neighbouring Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Germany have offered to take patients and about 20 seriously ill people are being evacuated onboard a “medically equipped TGV”.
All non-essential operations are being cancelled across the country, but those needing urgent medical attention will be seen. Women will still have access to contraception, pregnancy terminations and pregnancy scans, Salomon said.
French scientists and medical researchers are carrying out tests on various possible cures, including the anti-malarial drug chloroquine, but people are strongly advised not to self-medicate.
As well as the public clapping in support of essential health workers that happens in France at 8pm every evening, all the bells of French churches will ring in unison at 7.30pm today as a sign of solidarity and national unity and to boost morale during the second week of lockdown.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in France, as reported from the daily update last evening, is 22,300, a rise of 2,444 in a day, 10,176 people are in hospital with the virus, 2,516 of them in intensive care (34% of ICU cases are aged under 60). There have been 1,100 deaths in hospitals, 85% of which are of people over 70 years. The number of deaths rose sharply by 240 in 24 hours. This figure does not include those who have died in retirement homes or outside hospitals.