Covid-19: France records 544 new deaths as hospital cases continue week-long decline
France on Wednesday reported 544 deaths from Covid-19 in 24 hours, as the number of people in hospital and intensive care continued to decline.
The daily tally – 336 deaths in hospital and 2018 in nursing homes – brought France's total Covid-19 death toll to 21,340, top health official Jérôme Salomon told reporters.
On Monday, France became the fourth country after Italy, Spain and the USA to surpass the 20,000-fatality mark. The country has however seen a steady decline in the number of patients in hospital and intensive care units (ICUs). According to the figures published by health authorities, the number of patients in hospital has declined for nine consecutive days, and the number in ICUs for 14 consecutive days.
Prime Minister Édouard Philippe told a news conference Sunday that the gradual exit from lockdown in May, due to start with the reopening of schools, would not allow people to move around or interact as before, especially without any vaccine against the virus.
"It won't be a return to normal life," Philippe said, adding that as France introduces more testing, people with coronavirus would have to remain isolated at home or in hotels laid on by the government.
Lockdown enforcement to continue in suburbs
Five weeks into France’s lockdown, tensions over heavy-handed enforcement have boiled over in some of the capital’s working-class suburbs.
Speaking on Wednesday, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said French police will not shy away from enforcing a coronavirus lockdown in the banlieues (suburbs). His statement came even as the motorcyclist whose run-in with officers sparked the clashes has appealed for calm.
Stringent restrictions on public movement ordered by President Emmanuel Macron to tackle the epidemic have exacerbated deep-seated social tensions in the deprived, low-income neighbourhoods that ring the capital.
Violence first flared on Saturday after the rider hurtled into the open door of an unmarked police car and required surgery to his leg. Some local residents alleged that officers deliberately opened the door into his path, and police have said an investigation is under way.
Castaner said those who flouted the lockdown were putting themselves at risk and promised to punish those who attacked the police.
“We will make sure the lockdown is respected everywhere,” Castaner said at a senate hearing on Wednesday.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS and AFP)
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