Coronavirus death toll in France tops 500 as government orders 250 million face masks

Coronavirus death toll in France tops 500 as government orders 250 million face masks
A man walks past a banner reading "Thanks to health workers, police officers, fire fighters" on March 21, 2020 in Paris. AFP
The number of deaths from coronavirus in France rose once again on Saturday with the new total standing at 562, after another 112 fatalities in 24 hours. It comes as the government has vowed to order 250 million masks and step up testing.

France also counted some 14,459 confirmed cases of the virus, although health officials heave previously said the real number is likely much higher given not everyone with symptoms is tested.

On Saturday March 21st there were over 6,000 patients in hospital being treated for the disease with over 1,500 in intensive care.

Some 50 percent of those patients in intensive care (réanimation) are under the age of 60, health chiefs reported.

The French government's scientific council will on Monday make an announcement on whether the emergency lockdown will be extended and what other measures might be introduced, according to Health Minister Olivier Veran.  

Veran said on Saturday that the country will have to be patient to see the effects of being ordered to stay home.

Veran said: “the situation will continue to get worse before the effects of confinement can be seen.”

To help contain the COVID-19 virus, 250 million protective face masks will become available 'progressively”, the minister told a news conference.

There is currently a lack of masks, especially for health workers who are prone to catch and spread the disease.

Veran said the government was also seeking to multiply the coronavirus test kits available in order to increase testing once the restrictions on movement are lifted.

France has also launched a new website for the public to get information on the coronavirus symptoms so they can evaluate if they need might need medical help.

The site is maladiecoronavirus.fr


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