March 22, 2020 / 1:13 PM / in 7 days

France appeals to workers as coronavirus claims first doctor

PARIS, March 22 (Reuters) - The coronavirus outbreak has claimed its first fatality among French medical personnel, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Sunday, as the country prepares for an expected surge in cases.

The minister, who paid tribute to front-line medical staff during an appearance on LCI television, also said the country was counting on workers to keep essential services running despite the nationwide lockdown.

The deceased doctor was an emergency specialist working at a hospital in Compiegne, north of Paris, according to a Facebook post by one of his children, reported by public television.

“The medical profession is making a heavy sacrifice in our country today,” Veran said.

Separately French supermarket retailer Auchan announced a 1,000 euro ($1,070) bonus to 65,000 of its employees for their work during the crisis, amid concerns over staffing in some critical areas of the economy and public services.

The government may roll out a tax-free coronavirus “attendance bonus” to citizens who are unable to work remotely and continue in their jobs, officials have said.

“We’re asking citizens to continue mobilising to keep our economy working,” Veran said. “Not for the sake of economic objectives or budgets, but because a single missing link can bring down the entire production system.”

$1 = 0.9351 euros Reporting by Laurence Frost and Gwenaelle Barzic Editing by David Holmes

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