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France records 104 new Covid-19 deaths as hospital numbers drop below 20,000

A Paris mural by street artist Ardif thanking the caregivers and workers on the Covid-19 front line.
A Paris mural by street artist Ardif thanking the caregivers and workers on the Covid-19 front line. © Gonzalo Fuentes, REUTERS

France's death toll from the coronavirus rose by 104 to 27,529 on Friday, the health ministry announced, as the number of patients in hospital and in intensive care units continued to drop.

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Friday’s tally marks a significant decrease from the 351 deaths reported on Thursday, though that number included previously uncounted fatalities at care homes for the elderly.

France's health ministry said in a statement that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 infections fell again to 19,861 from 20,463 on Thursday, continuing an uninterrupted downward trend now in its fifth week.

The number of people in intensive care — a key measure of a health system's ability to cope with the pandemic — also continued its downtrend, falling by 96 to 2,203, from more than 7,000 in early April at the height of the crisis.

Both figures are welcome news for the government, which has begun lifting lockdown measures this week in an effort to revive a flagging economy.

The government has warned it will consider locking down the country again if daily new infections rise above 3,000. On Friday, the number of infections increased by 563 to 141,919, up 0.4% and the ninth consecutive day that the case tally rose by about half a percentage point or less.

"The Covid-19 epidemic is still active in France so we must remain cautious (...)," the health ministry said.

First death from rare childhood disease

Earlier on Friday, doctors in Marseille reported the country's first fatality from a rare childhood disease that experts have linked to the coronavirus.

The child died after a "neurological injury related to a cardiac arrest", said Fabrice Michel, head of the paediatric intensive care unit at La Timone hospital in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille.

The boy, who tested positive for coronavirus, received treatment at the hospital for seven days and died on Saturday.

In the last three weeks, several countries have reported cases of children affected by an inflammatory disease with symptoms similar to those of a rare condition, Kawasaki's disease. Scientists believe it is linked to Covid-19. 

The illness, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), was first reported in Britain in late April.

There have been 125 reported cases in France between March 1 and May 12, according to the country's public health agency. The patients' ages ranged from one to 14.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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