Coronavirus: 16-year-old girl becomes France's youngest victim after contracting COVID-19

16-year-old Julie is the youngest victim of the coronavirus in France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

A 16-year-old girl has died in France after contracting the coronavirus.

The teenager, named only as Julie A by French media and who came from the Paris region, is the youngest victim of COVID-19 in the county.

According to France24, Julie developed a cough a week ago and began to experience shortness of breath on Saturday.

She was hospitalised early this week, and her death was confirmed on Thursday.

France's director general of health Jérôme Salomon confirmed that a teenage girl had died but did not give further details.

In his daily press conference he said: “Severe forms (of COVID019) within the young are very rare.”

The news came as France reported more than 350 deaths from coronavirus in a 24-hour period, the highest daily total in the country so far and a 27% increase on the previous day.

France reported more than 350 deaths from coronavirus in a 24-hour period on Thursday. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

1,696 people have died in total in the country, according to data from Johns Hopkins university. There are nearly 30,000 confirmed cases of the virus.

Salomon said that France is planning to greatly increase the amount of testing it is doing, starting next week.

France has been on lockdown since 17 March in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Citizens are only allowed to leave their homes for essential reasons, such as grocery shopping.

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On Thursday the global number of coronavirus infections reached half a million.

The death toll stood at nearly 8,200 in Italy, more than 4,100 in Spain and more than 1,000 in the United States.

New York State, the worst hit ares of the US, accounted for about 400 of the country’s deaths.

578 people are confirmed to have died in the UK.