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France Declares Highest Epidemic Alert At National Level

The French government declared its highest epidemic alert at national level, with the coronavirus confirmed actively spreading across the country. As of Saturday, France has confirmed 4,500 cases of coronavirus infection, "twice as much as 72 hours previously."
15 Mar 2020 09:07
France Declares Highest Epidemic Alert At National Level
Photo taken on March 13, 2020 shows an empty departure hall at Terminal 2E of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy, near Paris, France.(Photo by Jack Chan/Xinhua)

With the coronavirus confirmed actively spreading across the country, France entered “stage 3” of its epidemic response plan, which means it is now at highest epidemic alert at national level, announced Director-General of Health Jerome Salomon on Saturday evening.

As of Saturday, France has confirmed 4,500 cases of coronavirus infection, “twice as much as 72 hours previously”, 91 people died and 300 patients are now hospitalized in intensive care, said Salomon.

A tourist wearing a mask is seen on the Place du Trocadero in Paris, France, March 12, 2020.(Photo by Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua)

A tourist wearing a mask is seen on the Place du Trocadero in Paris, France, March 12, 2020.(Photo by Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua)

Before Salomon gave the update on the epidemic, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that starting from Saturday midnight, all cafes, restaurants, cinemas, discotheques as well as non-essential shops in France will be closed until further notice. Public transport will be maintained but limited.

A woman wearing a protective mask is seen at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy, near Paris, France, on March 13, 2020.(Photo by Jack Chan/Xinhua)

A woman wearing a protective mask is seen at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy, near Paris, France, on March 13, 2020.(Photo by Jack Chan/Xinhua)

“We notice an acceleration of the spread of the virus, and a rapid increase in the number of people in intensive care. We observe that the first measures taken are not perfectly applied” by the French people, he lamented, recalling that the best way to slow down the epidemic is to respect the “social distance” recommended by health experts.

Philippe reiterated his call on the French people to limit trips as much as possible. However, he said, the first round of municipal elections will take place on Sunday as planned.

Under France’s epidemic response plan adopted in 2011, the authorities’ objective in stage 3 moves from “slowing down the spread” to “attenuating the effects of the epidemic wave”.

Since entering stage 2 on Feb. 28, the French government and the health authorities had vowed to mobilize all necessary preparations before the transition into the highest alert stage, which they expected to delay as long as possible.

Stage 3 marks the end of individual monitoring of cases by the Health Watch Institute, and in the event of saturation of the health care resources, treatment priorities must be applied, according to the 2011 epidemic response guide.

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