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France's COVID-19 epidemic has not yet peaked: health minister

FILE PHOTO: French Minister for Solidarity and Health Olivier Veran gestures as he speaks during a news conference in Paris, France March 28, 2020, on the eleventh day of a strict nationwide confinement seeking to halt the spread of COVID-19 disease. Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - France has not yet reached the peak of its COVID-19 epidemic, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Tuesday.

“We are still in a worsening phase of the epidemic,” Veran told broadcaster BFM TV. He also said that the country’s lockdown would last as long as necessary.

France’s coronavirus figures on Monday showed that the rate of increase in fatalities - at almost 9,000 - sped up again after several days of slowing.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Writing by Matthieu Protard; editing by John Stonestreet