France reports lowest daily virus toll in a week, total now 8,078

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France on Sunday reported 357 coronavirus deaths in hospital in 24 hours, the lowest daily increase in a week, bringing the country's toll to 8,078.

The tally included 5,889 patients who died in and 2,189 people in old age homes and other , a government statement said.

It said there were now 28,891 people with coronavirus in hospital in France—up 748 from the day before—with 6,978 in —a daily increase of 140 which was also the lowest number in days.

France has been in lockdown since March 17 in a bid to slow the spread of the epidemic, with only essential trips allowed that must be justified with a signed piece of paper.

There have been 70,478 confirmed coronavirus cases in France, but this is not the total as testing for the virus is not universal.

As the country basked in warm sunshine on Sunday and the Easter holiday period started, officials urged people to continue heeding the lockdown rules.

Police checks continued as people around the country were observed flouting restrictions to jog in groups, gather in and allow children to play together as rural areas received holidaymakers contrary to the government's confinement orders.

"The end of confinement is not yet on the cards, a deadline has not been set," interior ministry number two Laurent Nunez stressed.

"I remind you of the rule... one goes out only when it is strictly necessary."

"It's the holidays, the weather is nice, don't give in to the temptation," urged Valerie Pecresse, president of the larger Paris Ile-de-France region, which is hardest hit by the pandemic.

Forty-one severely ill patients were evacuated Sunday from Ile-de-France's overflowing hospitals and brought to Brittany in the north in two specially-equipped .

In total, more than 550 patients have so far been evacuated from Ile-de-France and the east of France which was the first pandemic hotspot.

© 2020 AFP

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