Covid-19: France records 242 new deaths, marking a major drop in its daily toll

A medical staff member, wearing protective suit and face mask, works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients at the Centre Cardiologique du Nord private hospital in Saint-Denis near Paris as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in France, April 22, 2020.
A medical staff member, wearing protective suit and face mask, works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients at the Centre Cardiologique du Nord private hospital in Saint-Denis near Paris as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues in France, April 22, 2020. © Gonzalo Fuentes / REUTERS

France reported a big fall in its coronavirus death toll on Sunday, with 242 deaths in 24 hours, a drop of more than a third on the previous day.

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The epidemic has now claimed 22,856 lives in the country since the beginning of March, health officials said.

The deaths in hospitals - 152 - was the lowest daily toll in five weeks, they said, while 90 people died in nursing and care homes.

The numbers of people leaving intensive care units (ICUs) has also outpaced the numbers of those entering those units.

The lockdown ordered by President Emmanuel Macron to slow the spread of the virus has been in place in France since March 17 and is due to be lifted on May 11.

France has also offered retailers some relief by saying it wants them to reopen on May 11, although some curbs could remain in certain areas to delay any new wave of the virus.

Unwinding the lockdown

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is due to present the government's plan to unwind the lockdown to parliament on April 28, and parliament will then vote on the measures.

Philippe wrote on his Twitter account on Sunday that the government plan would centre on six key areas - public health, schools, businesses, public transport and public gatherings.

The scientific council advising the government on the pandemic wrote over the weekend that school children aged 11-18 should wear masks to help thwart the virus.

Politicians are also debating whether or not to proceed with a software and mobile phone application aimed at being able to trace the coronavirus, with some expressing concerns over the potential for data abuse and privacy violations.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

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