France kills 4,000 with coronavirus

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French health officials have reported 509 new deaths from coronavirus today, bringing the total to 4,032.

There are now 24,639 people hospitalized in France with Covid-19, including 6,017 in intensive care, Jérôme Salomon, head of health, told reporters in his daily update. Yesterday’s death toll increased by 499.

French figures include only those who died in hospital and not those who died at home or in retirement homes.

The number of confirmed cases also increased from 4,861 to 56,989. However, many cases go unreported due to a lack of testing equipment.

Salomon noted that the number of people in intensive care was already greater than France’s intensive care capacity of around 5,000 before the crisis.

France has been blocked since March 17 in an effort to slow the spread of the epidemic, and officials have repeatedly warned that it will take time for the measures to bear fruit.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a parliamentary committee that when internment ends, it will likely be a step-by-step process.

He said it probably wouldn't be "all at once, everywhere and for everyone," indicating that he could be subjected to where people live, to tests and to their ages.

The possibility in the coming weeks and months of enhanced testing would allow the government to determine "the proportion of our citizens infected" and therefore the degree of immunity of the French population, he said.

France performs 30,000 tests a day, but hopes to speed up tests considerably in the days and weeks to come with the arrival of serological blood tests and then rapid tests which can give results in a few minutes.

The government’s strategy is to limit the peak of the epidemic so that the health system is not overwhelmed.

Hospitals are under immense stress in the east of the country - one of the most affected regions - but also in the Paris region. A hundred additional patients will be transferred from Paris to elsewhere in France.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has warned residents to cancel any travel plans for the school holidays starting this weekend, promising to punish any unjustified movement.

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