France records 471 more virus deaths in hospitals as total toll tops 5,000

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France recorded 471 new deaths in hospitals and 884 deaths in retirement homes due to the coronavirus, the country’s chief medical adviser told a press conference on Thursday.

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France’s Director General of Health, Jérôme Salomon, announced the figures during a daily press conference making for the first time a distinction between coronavirus deaths recorded in hospitals and those in retirement homes.

He said that a provisional tally showed that around 884 people in total had died in nursing homes after contracting the virus.

He added that the number of coronavirus-related deaths in hospitals rose 12 percent on Thursday to 4,503 from Wednesday.

This makes for a total of 5,387 lives lost to coronavirus in France, so far.

Salomon cautioned that coronavirus deaths in retirement homes could turn out to be higher than the reported number, as authorities were still gathering data from across the country.

Salomon said that the number of known infections rose nationwide to 59,105 from 56,989. The number of patients requiring life support rose to 6,399 from 6,017 on Wednesday.

In a televised interview on TF1 Thursday night, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe urged the French to respect the lockdown measures imposed since March 17, to ensure a levelling off of new cases of the virus. 

“This is the only way for the health service to overcome the peak” of the virus, he said.

France lockdown will ‘probably be extended’

He conceded the nationwide lockdown “would probably be extended” beyond the current deadline of April 15.

With the traditional spring break approaching, Philippe sternly warned the French against considering holidays away saying there would be checks and fines for those who violated the rules.

But he said that the French health system – which has ramped up its intensive care capacity – was bearing up amid the crisis.

“I want to tell the French that the dam is holding,” he said. “And we must all act together so it continues to hold.”

According to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, the global death toll from the virus on Thursday topped 50,000 with total infections surpassing one million.

In the United States a total 234,462 infections and 5,607 deaths were reported Thursday where COVID-19 is currently spreading the most rapidly. 

In Italy, the hardest-hit country in terms of the number of deaths, there were 115,242 reported cases and 13,915 deaths. Spain reported 110,238 cases and 10,003 deaths, and China – where the coronavirus first emerged late last year – reported 81,589 infections and 3,318 deaths. 

The number of actual infections, however, is believed to be higher since many countries are only testing severe cases or patients requiring hospitalisation. 

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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