France, nearly 21,000 deaths from coronavirus

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PARIS (Reuters) – Deaths from coronavirus in France rose steadily on Tuesday to nearly 21,000, but the number of intensive care patients registered its largest decline since the start of the epidemic.

Public health chief Jerome Salomon said the rate of increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, now 117,324 in total, was up for the second consecutive day, but the number of people hospitalized was down for the seventh consecutive day.

“This pandemic is massive. The virus is still circulating at a high level. We must maintain our full commitment, “said Solomon at a press conference.

France has entered its fifth week of lockout, which will remain in place until May 11.

Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer said after May 11, children will return to school in stages and in much smaller classrooms to minimize the risk of infection.

France reported 531 additional coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 20,796, a daily increase of 2.6% after 2.8% on Monday. It is the fourth highest count in the world, behind the United States, Italy and Spain.

The number of people in intensive care in France fell 4.4% to 5,433, the lowest since March 30 and the 13th consecutive daily decline.

(Report by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Chris Reese and Giles Elgood)

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