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France to close all public institutions from Monday

France will close all churches, kindergartens, schools, high schools, colleges, and universities for an indefinite period starting Monday in order to stem the coronavirus outbreak. The announcement came during a televised address by President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday night where he sent a strong message of support to the nation. France has so far reported 61 deaths from coronavirus, with 2,860 confirmed cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Macron thanked the health workers calling them "heroes in white coats".

"Health is priceless. The government will take all necessary means, whatever the cost," he said.

The president asked people above the age of 70, those with chronic and respiratory diseases, and the disabled to stay at home.

He added that the state will pay compensation to "employees forced to stay at home".

Municipal elections, he said, will go as scheduled.

After emerging in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 123 countries and territories.

The global death toll is now over 4,900, with more than 132,000 confirmed cases, according to the WHO, which has declared the outbreak a pandemic.

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