France records 96 new Covid-19 deaths as hospitalisations continue to fall

A man sits behind a protective plastic panel, during a distribution of protective face masks organised by the city of Mulhouse, eastern France, on May 16, 2020, as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus.
A man sits behind a protective plastic panel, during a distribution of protective face masks organised by the city of Mulhouse, eastern France, on May 16, 2020, as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus. © Sebastien Bozon, AFP

French health authorities reported 96 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday, bringing the total to 27,625, as the country eases from a two month lockdown.

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The ministry said the number of people in hospitals fell to 19,432 from 19,861 on Friday and the number of people in intensive care units dropped to 2,132 from 2,203 on Friday.

The 96 deaths recorded on Saturday marked one of the lowest tolls since mid-March, when France imposed a nationwide lockdown that began to ease this week. However weekend tolls are frequently lower than in the week, possibly due to reporting lags, particularly in nursing homes.

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

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 AFP and REUTERS)

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