France on Wednesday said that it would extend a lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus as the death toll soared across Europe and the US — though Washington said it saw “glimmers of hope” on the horizon.
More than 80,000 people worldwide have died in the virus crisis, which has sent the global economy spiralling and forced billions of people to remain at home as much as possible.
As the economic downturn starts to bite, health experts stressed that any premature loosening of restrictions could accelerate the spread of a contagion that has already infiltrated nearly every country.
In France, one of the hardest-hit nations in Europe with more than 10,000 deaths, President Emmanuel Macron will address the nation next week to explain the path forward.
The confinement order issued on March 17 “will be extended” beyond the current deadline of April 15, according to the sources.
Italy and Spain are still recording hundreds of deaths a day, and the situation is also deteriorating in Britain, which saw a record 938 fatalities on Wednesday.
In China’s Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus first emerged in December, there was cause for celebration as a ban on outbound travel was lifted.
Germany and France, the EU’s two largest economies, are bracing for a painful hit.
In Spain, another 757 deaths were reported on Wednesday that brought the toll up for a second day after several days of decline.
Earlier on Monday, Health Minister Olivier Veran said at a press conference,“This is not over. Far from it. We are not at the end of the ascent of this epidemic”.
The figures of those who died in nursing and care homes only started being included in the daily tallies on April 3, which had led to criticisms that officials were not disclosing the full extent of the outbreak.
Veran praised the efforts of the country’s health workers, whom he described as the “heroes of this fight”.
The global confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 1.5 million on Wednesday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.
The United States led the world with 423,135 cases. Spain and Italy followed with 146,690 and 139,422 cases, respectively. Countries with over 100,000 cases also include France and Germany, according to the data compiled by the CSSE.
Over 180 countries and regions have been impacted by the novel coronavirus, and more than 317,800 people have recovered from the disease, according to the data.