March 19, 2020 / 5:33 PM / 21 days ago

France to invest an extra 5 billion euros in scientific research amid coronavirus

French President Emmanuel Macron takes part in a videoconference of the "economic task force", at the Elysee Palace, with French economic leaders and members of the governement amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fears, in Paris, France March 19, 2020. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government said on Thursday it will invest an extra 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion) in scientific research programmes over the next decade, with a fifth of that earmarked for the health sector to prepare the country for future epidemics.

On top of this, the country will set up a 50 million euro emergency fund to tackle the current coronavirus pandemic, which has to date killed 264 people in the country. France is now in its third day of a lockdown to fight the spread of the disease.

“The Covid-19 crisis is a reminder of scientific research’s vital nature, and stresses the need to invest massively for the long term,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on his Twitter account.

“I have decided to increase our research program by five billion euros, an unprecedented effort since the post-war period,” he added.

The president was visiting health facilities in Paris on Thursday.

($1 = 0.9299 euros)

Reporting by Marine Pennetier; Writing by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Jan Harvey

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