France counted 24,920 cases as of Thursday, according to the WHO, and is the country with the fifth most deaths with 1,331 casualties. 364 French citizens died of the virus on Thursday, including their youngest victim to date, a 16-year-old girl in Paris.
The epidemic “is an extremely high wave and it is putting the entire healthcare system, the entire hospital system, under tremendous strain,” according to Philippe.
On Saturday, the prime minister will hold a press briefing with French Health Minister Olivier Véran during which they detail “all the issues relating to our strategy, the availability of equipment, masks, tests,” amidst controversy over shortages.
In Belgium, too, there has been controversy over shortages coming from various sectors including nursing homes, volunteers for the homeless and even politicians, with Belgian Worker’s Party PTB/PVDA criticising Maggie De Block for not replenishing a stock of mouth masks that had reached their expiration date.
France had recently said that it would likely extend its lockdown measures. “The members of the scientific council aren’t able to say with precision if the confinement should be for such a set duration. They said, maybe we need to prepare for the confinement to last longer. Beyond 15 days we know, but perhaps it could extend past that – another five or six weeks,” Véran said.