French PM warns of ‘extremely high’ surge in country’s coronavirus cases

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe leaves after the first meeting of the Research and Expertise Analysis Committee (CARE) at the Élysée Palace in Paris, France on March 24, 2020.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe leaves after the first meeting of the Research and Expertise Analysis Committee (CARE) at the Élysée Palace in Paris, France on March 24, 2020. © Ludovic Marin, REUTERS

France's prime minister raised the alarm Friday over an "extremely high" surge in coronavirus cases in the country and warned that the situation would be "difficult in the days to come."

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"We find ourselves in a crisis that will last, in a health situation that will not improve any time soon," Édouard Philippe said after a cabinet meeting held by videoconference.

The prime minister's statement comes as the head of the French Hospital Federation on Friday warned that hospitals in and around Paris are expected to reach saturation point within the next 48 hours.

"We will be at the limit of our capacities in 24 or 48 hours. We will need to show real solidarity between regions, hospitals and increase the numbers of patient transfers," Frédéric Valletoux told French broadcaster BFM TV.

"If we let hospitals cope by themselves, and let every territory that has been swept by the epidemic cope alone, then we’re heading towards a catastrophe.”

Paris and its suburbs now account for more than a quarter of the 29,000 confirmed coronavirus infections in French hospitals, with almost 1,300 of patients in intensive care. On Thursday evening, France’s total COVID-19 death toll stood at 1,696.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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