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French military to join virus fight in France as toll grows

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The French military will support public services strained by the coronavirus epidemic, President Emmanuel Macron has said, as the country’s death toll topped 1,300.

France like other nations has already imposed a nationwide ban on non-essential movement and closed schools and restaurants in a bid to stop the spread of the pandemic.

The military operation, named “Resilience”, will focus on “aiding and supporting the population, as well as helping public services face the epidemic in mainland France and overseas”, Macron said on Wednesday.

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“Unity and courage will allow us to overcome this, we are only at the beginning, but we will hold out,” Macron added, declaring that France was “at war”.

The comments came after the president visited a military field hospital set up by the army in the eastern Mulhouse region which has been badly hit by the coronavirus.

“The whole nation has been mobilised” in the fight against the disease, said a masked Macron, who also promised more investment for hospitals.

Officials said on Wednesday Paris will also cut metro and train services to a minimum in the capital and its suburbs and close two of its airports as the country expands the lockdown measures.

Operators said the goal was to keep just enough trains running for health workers and others who need to get to work during the coronavirus crisis.

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Police are carrying out checks at stations to prevent unnecessary travel, not least by people hoping to escape confinement in large cities.

Also Wednesday, Paris airports operator ADP said it would temporarily shut Orly airport, the main domestic hub, to commercial flights because of the “significant and sudden” drop-off in passenger traffic because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

“Yesterday passenger traffic at Orly was down 92 percent and down 89 percent at Charles de Gaulle,” the main Paris international hub, ADP’s managing director Edward Arkwright told journalists.

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The group had already shut several terminals at both airports as airlines slashed flights.

France has reported 1,331 official coronavirus deaths since the first case was reported in January. More than 11,500 people have tested positive for the virus.

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The government will announce over the coming days for how long the country’s lockdown measures would continue, spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said.


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This Europe country is housing quarantined coronavirus patients in a five-star hotel

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An ambulance driver wearing a white protective gown enters a Barcelona hotel and announces the arrival of three new "customers" -- a trio of coronavirus patients discharged from hospital into luxury quarantine.

"Good morning! How are you? My name is Enrique Aranda and I am probably the first non health care worker you see in several days," says the director of the five-star Melia Sarria hotel, peering into the ambulance.

It took just three days to convert the hotel, which features contemporary decor and bathrooms with marble finishing, into a clinic.

"Some patients arrive thinking that they were taken out of hospital to be left to die, many people are frightened. I try to make them forget all that," said Aranda, wearing mask and gloves.

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UK Labour to unveil new leader to replace Jeremy Corbyn

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Britain's main opposition Labour party on Saturday unveils a new leader who will take the helm of a defeated and divided party in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Keir Starmer, a former director of state prosecutions and Labour's Brexit spokesman, is the runaway favourite to win the ballot of around 500,000 party members and succeed Jeremy Corbyn.

The announcement will be a low-key affair, with a planned special conference cancelled due to restrictions on social gatherings imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Instead, the result will be put out in a press release mid-morning -- and candidates have been asked to pre-record their victory speeches.

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‘Trump fires people for telling the truth’: President blasted for ‘dead of night decision’ to fire intel watchdog

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President Donald Trump was harshly criticized on Friday for firing intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

House Intel Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senate Intel Ranking Member Mark Warner (D-VA) were among the lawmakers who took to Twitter to criticize Trump on his favorite social media platform.

Here's some of what people were saying about Trump's decision:

Trump’s dead of night decision to fire ICIG Michael Atkinson is another blatant attempt to gut the independence of the Intelligence Community and retaliate against those who dare to expose presidential wrongdoing.

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