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HEALTH

Macron pays homage to French health workers as death toll passes 1,300

French President Emmanuel Macron said the country's absolute priority was "to beat the virus" as the number of coronavirus victims climbed to 1,331 on Wednesday.

Macron pays homage to French health workers as death toll passes 1,300
Photo: AFP

Speaking from Mulhouse, a town in the hard-hit north eastern region of France, French President Emmanuel Macron once again referred to the battle against the virus as a “war”.

He said the whole of France was grateful to the health workers who were on the frontline “in a war against an invisible enemy”.

“The whole nation is behind them and grateful. We pay homage every day. The nation is by their side at all times,” he said, as he promised to launch a “massive investment plan” to “revalorise the hospital sector.”

“We owe them that,” he said. “They save lives. They do everything in their power,” he added whilst commending their “exceptional courage”.

He announced a huge investment plan for hospitals would be put in place but that health workers are paid more for all the overtime they putting in.

The president also thanked those on the “second line” – the supermarket workers, deliverers, cashiers, the workers who are keeping France functioning during the period of confinement.

Macron also thanked those “staying confined in their homes” for “slowing down the virus so that hospital workers can do their job.”

“Everyone has a role to play,” he said.

Macron also said he would launch a new military operation, which he called Opération Resilience (Operation Resilience), which would intervene “particularly in areas concerning health, logistics and protection.” Two helicopter carriers would be sent to the south of the south Indian ocean, close to Mayotte and La Réunion.

“We are at war,” he said. “We’re only at the beginning, but we will persist.” 

Death toll rises

Earlier in the evening national health director Jérôme Salomon told journalists during the Wednesday evening coronavirus press briefing that “We're standing in front of an unprecedented health challenge,”

In the last 24 hours, 231 people had died from the coronavirus, he announced.

This number does not include those who might have died from the coronavirus at home or in retirement homes, however, only those who have died in hospital. That means that the real coronavirus death toll is likely higher.

Salomon underlined that more than 86 percent of the people who had died were aged over 70 years old.

Currently 2,827 people were in intensive care.

“It is a considerable, exceptional number over such a short time and for one single illness,” Salomon said.

“Our top priority is to prevent that the intensive care beds in the most affected areas of the country fill up.”

READ ALSO: Which areas of France are the worst affected by coronavirus?

A total of 25,233 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, up from 22,300 Tuesday.

Currently only certain categories of people are tested, leading officials to say that the true number of cases in France is much higher than official figures.

READ ALSO Coronavirus testing in France – how does it work and who gets tested?

More than 11,539 people were in hospital on Wednesday, up from 10,176 on Tuesday. One third of these were aged less than 60, according to the health chief.

The number of people who have been released from the hospital however also increased, from Tuesday's 3,281 to 3,900.

“The crisis will last a long time and the coming days will be difficult,” Salomon said. “We will experience collective and individual tragedies.”

The scientific council specifically selected to advise the government on how to handle the coronavirus crisis has said at at least six weeks of lockdown may be needed.

“Everyone has a major role to play in limiting the spread of the virus,” Salomon said, reiterating the French government’s repeated call for everyone to “stay home.”

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Property taxes, food and tunnels: 6 essential articles on life in France

From tax hikes to the price of food, air conditioning and the unexpected things that lurk beneath the streets of Paris, here are 6 essential articles for life in France.

Property taxes, food and tunnels: 6 essential articles on life in France

As the inhabitants of Paris, one of Europe’s most densely populated cities, walk along the Champs-Elysées or Rue de Rivoli, they might be entirely unaware of the extensive underground world that exists below their feet.

Paris has a huge network of underground spaces that hide some very unexpected things (as well as the entirely prosaci Metro).

Skulls, beer and a ‘cathedral’: Discover the secrets of underground Paris

From cheese and garlic to berets and sex, taxes and striking, France is heavily loaded with cultural stereotypes – and most of them are only partly accurate.

This is us, busting more myths.

Myth-busting: Are these 12 clichés about France actually true?

France warned that companies might have to reduce energy this winter as Russian continues to reduce its gas supplies to Europe.

The government has already begun work on an energy-saving plan, with more measures to come in September.

And it’s not the only country thinking along these lines – from limits to heating and air conditioning to turning off the lights and taking off ties, here’s how countries around Europe are cutting their energy usage.

Air-con, lights and ties: How countries around Europe hope to avoid blackouts this winter

Although householders in France are relatively fortunate when it comes to rising bills, there is one notable exception.

Towns and villages across France have been raising property tax rates for second-home owners – with many areas voting for the maximum 60 percent increase.

Tax hikes of up to 60% for French second home owners

As we’ve stumbled onto money matters, let’s consider the cost of living. France has many temptations to woo visitors and foreign residents: its scenery, history, the lifestyle, the food and the drink.

While some things here are more expensive than elsewhere – we’re looking at you, second-hand car dealers – and the taxes are notoriously high, what about the cost of groceries and wine? How do they compare? We do something that looks a lot like crunching the numbers…

How expensive is food and drink in France?

But, enough of all that seriousness. It’s silly season, after all. Prominent French scientist Etienne Klein has had to apologise for claiming this was the latest astonishing picture taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, when it was – in fact …

French astronomer apologises for ‘stellar’ photo that was really . . . chorizo

Some people take things far too seriously.

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