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Leading medic says lockdown must be long in France

A leading French doctor has said deconfinement won't be for "many weeks" yet in France. The French press is reporting sources 'close to the president' as saying the end of the lockdown will not be before May 10. President Macron will address the public tonight.

In the fourth week of isolation, France should expect to face at least another three to four weeks under confinement, with elderly people likely to need to wait much longer.

President Macron is expected to announce the details of deconfinement along with new confinement rules at just after 20:00 tonight (Monday April 13) - it will come after the two minutes of traditional applause for health workers. He is likely to extend the isolation period to at least May 10, sources close to the president are quoted as saying on the public service media France 2.

Read more: Confinement in France will be extended after April 15

Read more: President Macron visits 'chloroquine-treatment' doctor

Preempting the extension this weekend, Professor Phillipe Juvin, head of the emergency unit at the leading Georges-Pompidou hospital in Paris, warned: “General deconfinement won’t take place for many more weeks.”

Until now, Professor Juvin had estimated that confinement would last two months - but on Saturday he announced on RTL radio that this prediction was optimistic.

Professor Juvin said that deconfinement will have to take place in several stages, which might involve letting young people out first.

Read more: French science council lists deconfinement conditions

Elderly people may have to wait until the end of the year, or until a vaccine is developed, said president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

In an interview with the German newspaper Bild, she said: “Children and young people will enjoy their freedom of movement earlier than older people and those with underlying health conditions.”

To avoid spreading the virus a second time, Professor Juvin recommended testing the population to identify who has already contracted the virus, letting them go outside first and using artificial intelligence to identify the groups in which it could re-emerge.

He said that it will also be necessary to increase the number of intensive care beds, and to provide masks to the population, which will take time to put in place.

Read more: Fewer Covid-19 patients enter intensive care in France

Read more: French communes work to provide free Covid-19 masks

Read more: France ‘must be extremely cautious’ as epidemic slows

Expressing his concern about the lack of intensive care beds and masks, he denounced the lack of coordination in French hospitals.

He also highlighted the need to offer better access to care and better pay for health professionals.

The pandemic has caused 14,393 deaths in France so far, of which over 9,000 took place in hospital, say statistics released on Sunday (April 12) by health agency la Direction Générale de la Santé (DGS).

This shows a rise of 315 hospital deaths in the last 24 hours, down from a peak of 605 deaths on Monday, April 6.

The number of patients in intensive care has gone down for the fourth consecutive day. But the DGS notes that in the last 24 hours only 35 people have been discharged from hospital.

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