The government has set a target of performing at least 700,000 tests per week, he said. Once a person has tested positive, tracing begins to identify, test and isolate all those who have been in close contact with the person.
“When we end the lockout, we will have the capacity to massively expand testing,” said Philippe in a speech to Parliament.
He said the foreclosure had saved tens of thousands of lives, but now was the time to ease unprecedented peacetime restrictions and save a plummeting economy.
However, he warned that the infection rate would increase if France moved too quickly and people became complacent.
“We must protect the French people without paralyzing France to the point that it is collapsing,” said Philippe. “A little too carefree and the epidemic takes off again. Too much caution and the whole country loops. “
Nearly 24,000 people died in the pandemic in France, the fourth global death toll after the United States, Italy and Spain.
The number in the hospital in France with COVID-19, the contagious lung disease caused by the new coronavirus, decreased daily for two weeks, while the number of patients in intensive care decreased for 19 consecutive days.
From May 11, schools will gradually reopen and businesses will be free to resume their activities, said Philippe. Restaurants, cafes and beaches will remain closed until at least June, while professional sports will be suspended until the end of August.
The schedule was dependent on the number of new coronavirus infections remaining below 3,000 per day, said the Prime Minister.
“If the indicators are not good enough, we will not solve the lockdown on May 11, or we will do it more strictly,” he added.
The number of new confirmed cases fell below 3,000 on April 15. In the past seven days, the average number of new cases per day has been around 1,500.
“We have to learn to live with COVID-19 and to protect ourselves from it,” said Philippe.
France’s plan to ease the lockdown reflects a balancing act, with the government wishing to ease the growing frustration of people locked in their homes since mid-March without increasing the risk of a second wave of infections.
Philippe said France had based its testing protocols on the changing advice of scientists, including the decision to only test patients in the hospital when the response to the crisis had reached its highest level.
” That’s what we did. Times have changed, as has the doctrine of the World Health Organization, “he said.
The remarks angered doctors who, for several weeks after the outbreak started, complained about the lack of protective equipment and fought to save lives as the epidemic overwhelmed hospitals.
“He needed to apologize. It did not do so and instead blamed the scientists, “said Edouard Jean-Baptiste, a general practitioner east of Paris.
Desirous of helping workers return to work, Philippe said that kindergartens and elementary schools nationwide would reopen from May 11 and secondary schools from May 18 in areas with high infection rates is weak. Class sizes will be limited to 15 students and high school students will be required to wear masks.
When possible, companies should encourage remote working for at least one week after May 11. Anyone traveling by public transport or taxi should also wear a mask.
The ban on professional sports events ends the 2019-2020 Ligue 1 football season and will have an impact on the already delayed Tour de France.
A vote will take place later, with only 75 of the 577 members of the National Assembly sitting in the chamber to respect the rules of social distancing.
(Reporting by Richard Lough, Michel Rose, John Irish, Matthieu Protard and Leigh Thomas; Writing by Richard Lough Editing by Angus MacSwan and Alison Williams / Emelia Sithole-Matarise)