As deaths rise, Macron warns France only at start of virus crisis

France is racing to beat coronavirus, President Emmanuel Macron says, as death toll nears 400 people.

    French President Emmanuel Macron said officials must be prepared to react as the fight against coronavirus continues [Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool/Reuters]
    French President Emmanuel Macron said officials must be prepared to react as the fight against coronavirus continues [Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool/Reuters]

    France is only at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis and is in a race to curb its progress, President Emmanuel Macron has warned, after cases and deaths surged in his country.

    "We are at the start of this crisis. We have taken exceptional measures to absorb this first wave, but we've started a race against the virus," Macron said on Friday at a crisis meeting at the Interior Ministry.

    "We must react a great deal and reorganise ourselves at every moment. We need to anticipate."

    More:

    On Thursday, France reported 108 more deaths, lifting the toll to 372.

    The country is witnessing an almost 40 percent increase in cases and deaths each day.

    About 11,000 people are officially contaminated, forcing the government to introduce confinement measures for its 67 million people.

    Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Friday that a warship would be used to evacuate critical coronavirus patients from the island of Corsica to hospitals on the mainland.

    Parly said the use of the warship was Macron's decision.

    No Paris mayoral election delay despite coronavirus outbreak [2:39]

    Meanwhile, anyone who does venture onto deserted beaches below the palm-fringed Promenade des Anglais along the Nice seafront will hear a coronavirus health warning from above, blared from a drone: "Keep a safe distance of at least one metre between people."

    Police in the French Riviera city have teamed up with a private drone operator. Soon a second drone may be deployed further along the coast, in Cannes, where this year's edition of the world-famous film festival was cancelled on Thursday.

    Armed with a loudspeaker, the drone whirrs above some of the city's most popular locations, reminding citizens of the government's confinement order.

    France has told citizens to stay indoors except to buy food, go to work or seek medical help. Macron has expressed frustration that people are not taking pubic health orders seriously.

    SOURCE: News agencies