PARIS: French health authorities reported 89 new deaths from coronavirus on Wednesday (Mar 18), taking the total to 264 or an increase of almost 51 per cent, a much more marked rise than recently seen as the country was in its second day of a lockdown aimed at containing the outbreak.

During a press conference, health agency director Jerome Salomon added the number of cases had risen to 9,134, up from 7,730 on Tuesday, which is a rise of 18 per cent in 24 hours.

Salomon said 931 people were in a serious condition, needing life support.

READ: WHO chief calls COVID-19 ‘enemy against humanity’

The French government on Tuesday put its 67 million people under lockdown, in an unprecedented act during peacetime, after an almost 20 per cent rise in deaths and reported cases in just 24 hours.

The head of the World Health Organization on Wednesday called the new coronavirus an “enemy against humanity”, as the number of people infected in the pandemic soared past 200,000.

Worldwide fatalities topped 8,000 and more deaths have now been recorded in Europe, the new virus epicentre, than in Asia since the outbreak first emerged in China in December.

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