March 3, 2020 / 3:38 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 3-France reports fourth coronavirus death, Macron says crisis could last months

(Updates number of confirmed cases, adds details)

By Geert De Clercq and Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, March 3 (Reuters) - A fourth person has died from coronavirus infection in France and President Emmanuel Macron warned that the health crisis could last several months.

“During the period we are going through and that we will go through - because we have entered a phase that will last weeks even possibly months - it is paramount to show clarity, resilience, nerves and determination to slow the epidemic ... and then fight it,” Macron told a crisis cell at the Health Ministry.

The head of the public health service, Jerome Salomon, told a daily press briefing that, at 1500 GMT on Tuesday, France had 212 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, up from 191 on Monday, and that 13 regions were affected.

The fourth victim was a 92-year-old man in the Morbihan department in the western region of Brittany.

“We are still in Phase 2. Our objective is to slow the spread of the epidemic,” Salomon said.

Macron has also signed a decree to requisition all stock and production of protective face masks.

They will be distributed to health professionals and people infected with the coronavirus, Macron said on his website.

Reporting by GV De Clercq; Dominique Vidalon Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean and David Goodman

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