The number of seriously ill coronavirus patients under 60 in France is out of kilter with the theory that younger people are less at risk.
- Half of the 300 coronavirus patients in intensive care in France are under 60, the country's top health official, Jerome Salomon, said over the weekend.
- The World Health Organization has suggested that the coronavirus most seriously affects older people.
- This assumption appears to have held true in Italy and has influenced governments' health advice, including in the US and the UK.
- Salomon also said France was struggling to contain the outbreak as people ignore the country's recommendations to avoid gathering in public places.
- France is one of the worst-hit countries in Europe, with more than 5,000 cases as of Monday.
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More than half of France's coronavirus patients in intensive care are under 60, the country's top health official said on Saturday.
According to CNN, Jerome Salomon, the director-general for health, said, "We have serious cases also amid adults, and let me remind you that more than 50% of people in intensive care are under 60."
The country is the fourth-worst-hit in Europe, with more than 5,000 cases as of Monday.
The World Health Organization has suggested that older people are being disproportionately seriously hit by the virus.
Salomon did not give a detailed breakdown of the intensive-care figures, so it's unclear how many are significantly younger than 60.
In Italy, which has one of the world's oldest populations, the average age of people who have died from the virus is 81, Business Insider's Rosie Perper reported last week.
A study published in February by China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention also found that older people were more seriously affected, Business Insider's Aria Bendix reported.
The advice has been cautiously echoed by health agencies worldwide. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended extra precautions for older people, while the UK government's advice to health professionals repeated the WHO's observations.
Salomon told a news conference on Monday that the country was struggling to contain the spread of the virus, Reuters reported.
He said that despite the government's recommendations, many people were still venturing outside to public places.
France is one of several countries that has imposed lockdown measures to try to prevent the spread of the disease. On Saturday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that non-essential businesses, including restaurants and cafes, would close.
On Monday, Salomon told the radio station France Inter that "a lot of people have not understood that they need to stay at home, and this low level at which people have adhered means that we are not succeeding in curbing the outbreak of the epidemic," Reuters reported.