France extends coronavirus lockdown by two weeks

France has announced that its strict lockdown measures will be extended for another two weeks - until April 15th.

France extends coronavirus lockdown by two weeks
Photo: AFP

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.


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.

READ ALSO These are the rules of lockdown in France

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.

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Sick patients in France lacking GP to be contacted before summer, minister says

The French minister of health promised that chronically ill patients who aren't registered with a doctor will be contacted by the summer.

Sick patients in France lacking GP to be contacted before summer, minister says

François Braun, France’s Health Minister, said on Monday that all chronically ill patients without a general practitioner will be contacted before the month of June with “concrete solutions”.

There is a general shortage of medécins généraliste (GPs or family doctors) in France, with some areas classed as ‘medical deserts’ where people find it almost impossible to register with a doctor.

The health minister said that people without access to primary care doctors are “deprived of a regular follow-up” and that this is “no longer acceptable” for those with chronic illnesses. These groups will be contacted via Assurance Maladie before the summer, he added. 

Braun’s statements came a few weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech to healthcare workers outlining the ways he is seeking to overhaul the health system in the country.

READ MORE: How Macron intends to revive France’s ailing health system in 6 months

In his speech, the president promised that the “600,000 patients in France who suffer from a chronic disease would be offered a primary care doctor – or at least a ‘reference team’ – by the end of the year.”

Macron also discussed plans establish a “Conseil national de la refondation (CNR – or National Council for Reconstruction)” to build a “roadmap” for solutions in the fight against medical deserts.

Approximately six million French people are estimated to lack a primary care doctor, and 600,000 of those people suffer from long-term diseases, according to Franceinfo.

READ MORE: What to do if you live in one of France’s ‘medical deserts’

This issue is aggravated by the fact that almost a third of French people live in medical deserts – or geographical zones where healthcare providers and general practitioners are severely lacking compared to the rest of the country. Generally, this refers to healthcare in the community such as GPs or family doctors, dentists or community nurses, rather than hospitals.

Medical desertification mainly affects rural areas with an ageing population – though they’re also developing in some towns and cities (including some Paris suburbs) as retiring doctors are not replaced and younger medics establish themselves in more dynamic zones, both in terms of economy and activities.