France was experiencing an ‘extremely high surge’ in Coronavirus cases this weekend – as the Channel Tunnel remained open and high-speed trains continued to travel between Paris and London.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Friday night said the ‘epidemic wave’ was still sweeping his country with ‘remarkable strength’ and that the crisis would deepen.’
Mr Philippe added: ‘It is submerging our care system and our hospital system with remarkable strength.
Despite a surge in positive coronavirus cases, the Channel Tunnel remains open and in use
‘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.’
Hospital chiefs in Paris were particularly worried, with Frederic Valletoux, president of France’s federation of hospitals, saying: ‘We will clearly need help in the Paris region because what happened in the east is coming here.
‘We will be at the limit of our capacities in 24 to 48 hours. If we let every hospital cope by itself and let every territory that has been taken by the epidemic cope alone, then we shall he heading towards catastrophe.’
Mr Valletoux said that 1,300 of its 1,500 intensive care beds reserved for coronavirus patients were already occupied.
‘We have not yet reached the peak of the epidemic,’ said Bruno Riou, medical director of the AP-HP hospital group that serves the Paris region. ‘We will have to find solutions.’
In other coronavirus developments today:
· A record 260 people who tested positive with the coronavirus have died in the biggest 24-hour spike to date, bringing the total number of those who died with Covid-19 to 1,019;
· Scottish Secretary Alister Jack self-isolates with coronavirus after Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock catch it;
· Humberside, West Midlands, Greater Manchester, and Avon and Somerset have created a mixture of ‘hotlines’ and ‘online portals’ where people can submit tip-offs if lockdown infractions occur;
· Images from inside ExCeL Centre show construction work to transform the exhibition centre into a hospital;
· Andy Burnham has said that hundreds of firms in Manchester have remained open ‘without good reason’;
· Workers who have not taken a holiday because of the crisis will be able to carry it over into the next two years;
· NHS staff to be tested for coronavirus from next week at places including Chessington World of Adventures;
· The coronavirus social distancing limit is four times too short, Massachusetts Institute of Technology warned.
Paris is on lockdown as the city braces itself to be hit strongly by the rapidly spreading virus
Those who arrive in Paris on the Eurostar are met by police asking for documentation
Despite this, travellers including many Britons were still travelling freely between France and the UK.
Those who arrived at the Gare du Nord in Paris on Eurostar trains found the city in lockdown, with police asking them for documentation.
‘Foreigners who arrive are finding the situation difficult, but face fines just like everybody else,’ said a local police spokesman.
Fines equivalent to £120 are issued to those without a permit allowing them an hour on the street, while punishments can soon rise to a six-month prison sentence for repeat offenders. Prime minister Philippe warned that France must ‘remain highly mobilised’ in the fight against the epidemic, that by Friday had killed 1,696 people on French soil.
This warning was echoed by Director General of Health Jérôme Salomon, who also predicted that the weekend would be very difficult.
Mr Salomon said: ‘The objective is to put a brake on the epidemic so as to limit the peak and overcrowding of the hospitals.
‘The next few days will certainly be hard but then we all hope there will be an improvement.’
French Prime Minister Eduoard Philippe says the ‘epidemic wave’ was still sweeping his country with ‘remarkable strength’ as coronavirus numbers mount
Last week, a ‘bright and much loved’ French schoolgirl with no underlying medical condition become the youngest person in Europe to die from Coronavirus in a Paris hospital.
Tributes were paid to Julie Alliot, 16, who succumbed to respiratory problems on Wednesday after first developing a ‘slight cough’ a week ago.
‘We must stop believing that this virus only affects the elderly,’ said her heartbroken sister, Manon Alliot.
‘No one is invincible against this mutant virus. Julie just had a slight cough last week. It got worse last weekend with mucus and on Monday we went to see a general practitioner.
‘It was there that she was diagnosed with respiratory distress. She had no particular illnesses before this.’
Julie died in the Necker Hospital hospital in Paris on Wednesday, and her funeral will take place on Monday.