France will extend a national lockdown until April 15 after reporting its biggest daily death toll from coronavirus, its prime minister said on Friday, and officials warned that hospitals around Paris could be overwhelmed in 48 hours.
“At the end of these first 10 days of confinement it is clear that we are only at the beginning of the epidemic wave,” Edouard Philippe told reporters after a cabinet meeting. “It has overwhelmed the East and is now arriving in the Ile-de-France (Greater Paris region) and the Hauts de France (northeast).”
President Emmanuel Macron imposed a lockdown on March 17 until end of the month to slow the spread of the highly infectious respiratory disease.
But doctors have said they are bracing for a new wave of cases next week after the government pressed ahead with local elections and thousands of people mingled in parks and streets before they were confined at home.
The capital and its suburbs now account for over a quarter of the 29,000 confirmed coronavirus infections in French hospitals, with almost 1,300 now in intensive care.
Worldwide, the pandemic has infected more than 551,800 people and killed nearly 24,900. [nL8N2AB5TN]
Highlighting the brutality of the coronavirus, a 16-year-old girl with no underlying health conditions became the first teenager to die of the virus on Thursday.
The death toll nationwide stood at 1,696, with signs that the virus is also becoming endemic in the southwest of France – even if the lockdown has slowed its advance.
Officials in the Paris region have been scrambling to locate more intensive care beds, ventilators and medical staff and spread the load of patients across the capital and its broad girdle of suburbs.