Coronavirus: France opens housing for infected homeless people

The centres will be for those with mild cases not requiring hospital treatment

France in the coming days will open accommodation centres for homeless people suffering from mild symptoms of coronavirus.

The first place to open will be in Paris and house 150 people. The French government said more than 80 sites have been identified across the country for similar centres to house some 2,875 people. A team of medical experts will determine who is allowed to stay.

"In the very difficult context that we are currently going through, my priority is to maintain assistance to the most vulnerable and I sincerely thank all the professionals and volunteers involved in this action," said Julien Denormandie, Minister of Housing.

Around 157,000 people struggling for somewhere to live are currently housed in government-funded centres.

France had already announced it would not ask around 14,000 homeless people to leave emergency accommodation set up over the winter.

President Emmanuel Macron said it was already crucial “for the most precarious, for the most deprived, for the isolated people, we will make sure, with the big associations, with also the local communities and their services, that they can be fed, protected, that the services we owe them be provided”.

On Thursday the head of the country’s public health agency warned that a country-wide two-week home confinement order to curb the spread of coronavirus would like be extended.

"Between two and four weeks" are required for the outbreak to be contained, Genevieve Chene told Franceinfo radio, which means an extension of the home confinement that began on Tuesday would "very likely be necessary."

The epidemic is worsening in the country, with 89 confirmed new deaths in 24 hours. On Wednesday, health authorities said half of patients in intensive care are under 60. There have been more than 9,000 confirmed cases.

To support struggling businesses, Finance Minister Bruno La Maire has suggested nationalising major companies could be a possibility.

"We have several options on the table for all of the major industrial companies which could face major threats on the market. It could be us raising our stake in their capital....or it could be nationalisations," Mr La Maire told France Inter Radio.

"We have all these options on the table, we are looking at them all, and I will be presenting them all to the President quite imminently," he said.