France began its lockdown on March 17th initially for 15 days, although President Emmanuel Macron was clear that this was a minimum and it could be extended.
Earlier this week the specialist scientific council that advises the government recommended that a six-week lockdown was needed in order to halt the spread of coronavirus in France and ensure that the health services could cope.
However on Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that it would be extended for another 15 days.
? Edouard Philippe annonce la prolongation du confinement jusqu'au mercredi 15 avril au moins pic.twitter.com/bEgJR5gnF0
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) March 27, 2020
As he left a meeting of French government ministers, he announced: “It is clear that we are only at the beginning of the epidemic wave.
“The wave that has submerged the Grand Est region of France for several days is arriving in Île-de-France and Hauts de France.
“This is why, with the agreement of the President of the Republic, I am announcing the renewal of the lockdown period, for two additional weeks, from next Tuesday – or until Wednesday, April 15.
“This period could be prolonged if the health situation requires it to be.”
He added that the same rules will continue to apply during the extended lockdown period.
The death toll in France has climbed steeply in recent days – from around 100 deaths a day over the weekend to 200 a day earlier in the week and at least 365 deaths on Thursday.
Health chiefs say they don't think numbers have peaked yet and are predicted 'extremely difficult days' over the weekend and into the start of next week.