French PM to update nation on Covid-19 plans tomorrow

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe made the speech and gave the updates this morning (Friday March 27)

The French government is to hold a press conference tomorrow to answer key questions and explain the country’s strategy against Covid-19, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed this morning.

In a speech to the nation this morning (Friday March 27), Edouard Philippe said: “The State is completely mobilised to face up to this healthcare situation.

“The health situation is difficult. The numbers over the past 24 hours are heavy. We are in a crisis that is going to last. In a health situation that is not going to improve quickly. We have to hold strong, and stay alert.

“The epidemic wave that is sweeping France, which hit the Grand Est region first, and which is now arriving in Ile-de-France, in Hauts-de-France, and other French regions; is a very tall wave. It is submerging our care system, our hospital system, with remarkable strength.

“Our medical teams are facing [it] with precision and courage, and have greatly increased their capacity, which is a remarkable project. But the situation is going to be difficult over the next few days, and I want to be clear about that.

“Tomorrow I will hold a detailed press conference with the health minister, on the questions related to the health situation [and] our strategy on making equipment available: masks, tests...all the questions that the French people are rightly asking.

“And to which we must say things in the clearest, most transparent way, taking into account our strengths and weaknesses, to ensure that our co-citizens understand the situation we find ourselves in. I will do that tomorrow with the health minister in the clearest possible way. That is what we owe our citizens.

“For today, this is the beginning and continuation of a difficult fight, facing up to this epidemic wave that is prevailing, and - to conclude - again, I offer all my confidence and acknowledgements and thoughts to all the healthcare workers in France today. Thank you.”

Workers thanked and acknowledged

Mr Philippe repeatedly thanked healthcare workers, law enforcement, and emergency services who continue to fight against the virus.

He also thanked teachers for their “imaginative” work in providing lessons and guaranteeing education for pupils not at school; and everyone in any roles that are continuing to ensure that society continues to function despite the crisis - including public servants, diplomatic workers, government staff, supermarket workers, and delivery drivers.

He did not give more details on the press conference set for tomorrow (Saturday March 28), although it is thought likely to include a decision on whether to extend the confinement period, and more details on how the country can best function under the lockdown.

 

Major Franco-US initiative?

The Prime Minister spoke as President Emmanuel Macron hinted at a “new major initiative” between the US and France against coronavirus.

Mr Macron said he tweeted the news after having spoken to his US counterpart, but has revealed no extra information at this time.

The updates come after 365 more people died of the virus in France over the past 24 hours. The number of deaths is now at 1,696 in total. This includes a teenager aged 16.

This is 134 people more to die compared to the previous 24 hours, which had seen 231 deaths, said health director general, Jérome Salomon in the latest update (the evening of Thursday March 26).

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