France reports sharp rise in coronavirus deaths in just 24 hours

French health agency director Jérôme Salomon at a news conference in Paris, March 18, 2020.
French health agency director Jérôme Salomon at a news conference in Paris, March 18, 2020. © FRANCE 24 screengrab

French health authorities reported 89 new deaths from coronavirus on Wednesday, taking the total to 264, or an increase of almost 51 percent, as the country was in its second day of a lockdown aimed at containing the outbreak.


At a press briefing Wednesday evening, French health agency director Jérôme Salomon added the number of coronavirus cases had risen to 9,134 – up from 7,730 on Tuesday, which is a rise of 18 percent in 24 hours. 

Salomon said 931 people were in serious condition and needing life support.

The spike came as the country experienced the second day of a lockdown, with around 100,000 police and gendarmes deployed across the country to enforce the new measures, with people only allowed to leave home for officially sanctioned reasons such as going to work, shopping for necessities or getting medical treatment.

The fast-spreading disease that jumped from animals to humans in China has now infected more than 205,470 people across the world and caused 8,248 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University, triggering emergency lockdowns and injections of cash unseen since World War Two.

There was particular alarm in Italy, which reported 475 new deaths, the biggest increase since the outbreak started and the highest one-day total posted by any nation. It brought the total number of deaths in the country to 2,978, an increase of 19 percent. 

The total number of confirmed cases in Italy, the European country hardest hit by the virus, rose to 35,713 from 31,506.


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