France will extend its nationwide lockdown put in place to contain the spread of the new coronavirus for a second time, meaning it will run beyond April 15, the French presidential palace said on Wednesday.
The Élysée Palace said French President Emmanuel Macron would address the nation regarding the disease situation on Monday evening. Macron will from now until Monday "speak to a large number of public and private actors – French, European and international – on what is at stake concerning Covid-19 and prepare the decisions that will be announced on Monday to the French", the presidency said. It will be Macron's third prime time address from the Élysée Palace since the crisis began.
The announcement comes as France's coronavirus death toll rose to 10,869 after hospitals recorded 541 new fatalities over the most recent 24-hour period. Jérôme Salomon, head of the public health authority, told reporters that there were now 7,148 people in intensive care at hospitals across France, a net increase of 17 from the day earlier, the lowest increase recorded in recent weeks. Salomon said he was unable to give a tally for the country's nursing homes, which account for more than 30 percent of total fatalities, due to "technical problems". The health official said the nationwide lockdown, which began on March 17, had helped slow down the virus's spread. "The slowing seen over the last days is linked to your good respect of the confinement rules," he said. He expressed hope that France would see a flattening in its curve of cases in coming days but emphasised that this "plateau is at a very high level".