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Official updates on Covid-19 in France

The director of French health service Jérôme Salomon and the Director General of Civil Security and Crisis Management in France Alain Thirion have both made public announcements tonight.

The key points are:

562 people have now died from Covid-19 since the beginning of the epidemic in France, including 112 since the evening of Friday March 20. A total of 14,459 cases have been confirmed by tests, including 6,172 people hospitalised and 1,525 in intensive care. 35% of the confirmed cases are people aged under 65.

The seven regions most affected are the Grand Est, Corsica, Ile-de-France, Hauts-de-France, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

Both stressed that confinement and carrying out barrrier gestures (washing hands frequently with soap or hydro alcoholic gel – the virus is transmitted often via hands - and keeping a distance of at least a metre from others) are the most effective means.

A total of 91,824 violations of the rules for only going out for set specific reasons and with a signed form (or handwritten note declaring the same) have been recorded since the beginning of the confinement period in France.

The fine of €135 will be increased to €1,500 in the event of a repeat offence and then in the event of a further offence will be considered a misdemeanour with a fine of €3,500 and up to six months in prison. "The aim is not to punish, but to protect,” said Mr Thirion.

Praise for all health workers and the gestures of solidarity from the public such as applause given each evening at 20:00 from windows of homes in Paris and other cities and the donation of free meals from takeaway outlets to health workers. The support is important to staff, said Mr Solomon.

The government has requested the opinion of the official scientific council set up for Covid-19 in order to decide on the necessary "duration" and "extent" of the confinement, for the time decreed until at least the end of March. The council's opinion is expected tomorrow Monday March 23.

The French parliament has passed a bill allowing the establishment of a state of health emergency of two months in the face of the epidemic due to the coronavirus.

Several cities and French municipalities have introduced a curfew: Nice and Cannes (Alpes-Maritimes), Béziers (Hérault), Roquebrune-sur-Argens (Var), Charleville-Mézières (Ardennes), Arras (Pas-de-Calais) and Perpignan (Pyrénées-Orientales).

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