Coronavirus France: Majority of French fear catching virus and believe it will get worse

The daily poll, conducted online by BVA for Europe 1 radio and Orange, found that 76 percent of French people are worried about getting sick. Seventy-nine percent said they feared “the worst is yet to come,” up four points from Saturday and nine points from last Wednesday.

Only 43 percent of respondents approve of the French government’s handling of the public health crisis, down seven points from Saturday.

A separate poll by Ifop for newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) also published on Sunday gave similar results, showing that 55 percent of the French support the government’s crisis management efforts.

Eighty-four percent, however, told pollsters they were “worried” about the worsening pandemic.

The coronavirus death toll recorded by French hospitals jumped by 112 to 674 on Sunday, the head of the public health authority Jerome Salomon said, while the number of confirmed cases increased by 11 percent to 16,018 over 24 hours.

Mr Salomon told a daily press briefing: “We are looking at an epidemic that is widening and escalating.” With hospitals scrambling to attend to 7,240 victims – including 1,646 in intensive care –, the military are having to transfer some from the worst-hit areas.

Mr Salomon warned: “The virus kills and is continuing to kill.”

He added people over the age of 70 represent around 87 percent of deaths.

Health Minister Olivier Veran, for his part, praised medical staff on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight and urged other workers to keep key services running.

Mr Veran told LCI television: “The medical profession is making a heavy sacrifice in our country today.

“We’re asking citizens to continue mobilising to keep our economy working.

“Not for the sake of economic objectives or budgets, but because a single missing link can bring down the entire production system.”

French lawmakers on Sunday approved tougher penalties for violating a nationwide confinement; while the country’s top administrative court – the State Council – rejected demands for stricter confinement rules.

Under the health emergency bill approved by lawmakers, those caught violating the rules – which include exceptions for essential commuting, shopping and solitary exercise – will face harsher fines, ranging from 135 to 3,700 euros (£124-£3,409) and a six-month prison term for repeat breaches.

France is expecting preliminary results within two weeks from a clinical test of the effectiveness of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine against Covid-19, the condition caused by the virus.

French hospitals began testing the anti-malarial and three other drugs this weekend, research institute Inserm said, as part of a European programme involving 3,200 Covid-19 patients.

There are as yet no vaccines or treatments approved but trials are underway in the United States and Europe to see whether hydroxychloroquine can prevent, or reduce the severity of, the illness.

The Ifop poll of 1,013 people was conducted online between March 19-20; while the BVA poll was conducted online on March 22.

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