Doctor among latest French victims as lockdown penalties toughened

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French lawmakers approved tougher penalties for defying a nationwide confinement order as the coronavirus death toll rose on Sunday, with a first member of the country’s medical profession among the victims.

Reacting to news of the doctor’s death, health minister Olivier Veran paid tribute to medical staff confronting the pandemic and urged other workers to keep key services running, even as the lockdown halts many businesses deemed non-essential.

“The medical profession is making a heavy sacrifice in our country today,” Veran said on LCI television.

The doctor who died was an emergency specialist at the university hospital in Compiegne, north of Paris, where several other staff have tested positive for the virus, according to French media reports.

The coronavirus death toll recorded by French hospitals rose by 112 to 674 on Sunday, officials said, while the number of confirmed cases increased by 11% to 16,018 over 24 hours.

Those caught defying the order – which has exceptions for essential commuting, shopping and solitary exercise – will also face harsher penalties, ranging from 135 to 3,700 euros ($3,960) and a six-month prison term for repeat breaches, under the health emergency bill approved by lawmakers.

Supermarket retailer Auchan separately announced a 1,000 euro ($1,070) bonus for employees, amid concern over staffing levels in critical areas of the economy and public services.

The government is considering a tax-free “attendance bonus” for people who need to be at their workplace to carry out key jobs, officials have said.

Read more via Reuters

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