French coronavirus death toll tops 1,000, lockdown likely to be extended
By Benoit Van Overstraeten (Reuters) - France became the fifth country to report more than 1,000 deaths from coronavirus on Tuesday and a government body dealing with the outbreak suggested the national lockdown imposed last week for an initial 15 days should last at least six weeks. Health Minister Olivier Veran told a briefing he could not determine at this stage when the lockdown would end. If the government were to follow the scientific council's advice, France would remain at a virtual standstill until April 28.
By Benoit Van Overstraeten
(Reuters) - France became the fifth country to report more than 1,000 deaths from coronavirus on Tuesday and a government body dealing with the outbreak suggested the national lockdown imposed last week for an initial 15 days should last at least six weeks.
Health Minister Olivier Veran told a briefing he could not determine at this stage when the lockdown would end. If the government were to follow the scientific council's advice, France would remain at a virtual standstill until April 28.
A statement by the council, which advises President Emmanuel Macron on the coronavirus crisis, also said the lockdown was the only really efficient strategy at the moment and "needs to be strictly implemented".
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Monday the widespread lockdown in France could last several more weeks and his government was tightening restrictions on daily life even further.
Veran also said France would heed World Health Organization recommendations to increase coronavirus testing. Health agency chief Jerome Salomon said later France would soon be able to conduct 10,000 tests a day.
Salomon reported 240 new deaths from coronavirus on Tuesday for a total of 1,100, an increase of 28% that made France the fifth nation to cross the 1,000-fatalities threshold after - China, Italy, Iran and Spain.
This tally only accounts for people who died in public hospitals, whereas several retirement homes have been reporting deaths in the double digits.
Salomon said health authorities would soon be able to tabulate data coming from retirement homes, which will likely trigger a more dramatic increase in registered fatalities.
He said the total number of infections in France had risen to 22,300, a 12% jump in 24 hours.
Salomon added that 2,516 people were in a serious condition requiring life support, up by 21% from Monday, and that 8,000 hospital beds were now equipped with ventilators.
(Reporting Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
U.S. home sales fall as tight supply boosts prices | Reuters
France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.