France reports record toll of 833 new coronavirus deaths

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France on Monday reported that 833 more people had died of COVID-19 in hospitals and nursing homes over the previous 24 hours, its highest daily toll since the epidemic began.

"We have not reached the end of the ascent of this epidemic," Health Minster Olivier Veran told reporters, as he announced the new toll which brought the total number killed in the coronavirus epidemic in France to 8,911.

The figures were a reminder to France—which has been in lockdown since March 17 in a bid to slow the spread of the virus—of the long road ahead after several days where key data had improved somewhat.

France is now giving a daily combined toll of deaths in hospitals and nursing homes. Previously it had only given the hospital toll on a daily basis.

Of the new deaths, 605 were registered in hospitals, Veran said.

"It is not over. Far from that. The path is long. The figures that I have announced show this," he said. "Stay at home and continue this confinement effort," he added.

Veran said that 478 more people had gone into intensive care over the last 24 hours, a higher figure than in previous days.

But in more positive news, he said that counting patients who had left intensive care, there were just a net total of 94 more patients in intensive care, the lowest such figure since the confinement began.

"We see that the confinement has a palpable impact. In France we are beginning to feel it."

Veran said that the latest figures from statistical modelling showed that the reproduction rate (R0)—the number of people an average infected person infects—was falling in France.

If the number is under 1.0 it means the average victim infects less than one person, giving hope that the epidemic will end.

"Thanks to the confinement, this R0 is around 1.0 and probably a little under and in some regions clearly under.

"In other regions it is above 1.0 so this is why we must stay at home."

Veran said that in nursing homes—where a total of 2,417 people have died since the start of the epidemic—a "vast operation" of testing would begin to better protect residents.

© 2020 AFP

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