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Empty parks and river banks as Paris maintains ban over coronavirus fears

A view shows closed Paris' antique booksellers or bouquinistes along the deserted banks of the river Seine at Saint Michel district in Paris as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, March 18, 2020.
A view shows closed Paris' antique booksellers or bouquinistes along the deserted banks of the river Seine at Saint Michel district in Paris as a lockdown is imposed to slow the rate of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, March 18, 2020. REUTERS - CHRISTIAN HARTMANN

Paris will maintain a ban on gatherings on promenades along the Seine river, the lawns of Les Invalides and the Champs de Mars around the Eiffel Tower in efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, police said on Monday.

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Paris police had initially ordered the ban for the past weekend only. The ban will now last until lockdown measures ordered by French authorities are lifted.

The move to maintain the ban came a day after French lawmakers approved tougher penalties for defying a nationwide lockdown order as the coronavirus death toll rose on Sunday, with a first member of the country's medical profession amoung the victims.

Reacting to news of the doctor's death, Health Minister Olivier Véran paid tribute to medical staff confronting the pandemic and urged other workers to keep key services running, even as the lockdown halts many businesses deemed non-essential.

"The medical profession is making a heavy sacrifice in our country today," Véran said on LCI television.

The doctor who died was an emergency specialist at the university hospital in Compiègne, north of Paris, where several other staff have tested positive for the virus, according to French media reports.

The coronavirus death toll recorded by French hospitals rose by 186 to 860 on Monday, officials said, while the number of confirmed cases increased by 20 percent to 19,856.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)     

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