French hospitals record deadliest day with 588 coronavirus deaths

Medical staff with a patient at an intensive care unit for patients contaminated with coronavirus at the Louis Pasteur Hospital in Colmar, eastern France, on March 26, 2020.
Medical staff with a patient at an intensive care unit for patients contaminated with coronavirus at the Louis Pasteur Hospital in Colmar, eastern France, on March 26, 2020. © Sebastien Bozon, AFP

French hospitals recorded their highest death toll in 24 hours with 588 new fatalities from coronavirus, the country's chief medical adviser told a press conference on Friday, as the total toll including retirement homes rose to more than 6,500.

Advertising

France's Director General of Health, Jérôme Salomon, announced the figures during a daily press conference, saying a total of 5,091 people had died in French hospitals since the start of the crisis. 

Giving a separate tally for nursing homes, Salomon said that a provisional count showed that at least 1,416 people had died at care homes for the elderly after contracting the virus.

French officials started releasing figures for care homes only yesterday. The huge rise in those numbers makes for a total of 6,507 lives lost to coronavirus in France, so far.

Salomon said that the number of known infections rose nationwide to 64,338 from 59,105 on Thursday. The number of patients requiring life support rose to 6,662 from 6,399.

In a televised interview on 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.

Philippe conceded that 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.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning