The new deaths – 418 in hospitals and 343 in nursing homes – brought the total number of epidemics in the country to 18,681, senior health official Jerome Salomon told reporters.
But in more positive news, the total number of hospital patients fell for the third consecutive day – with 115 fewer patients – and the number of intensive care patients fell for the ninth consecutive day with 221 fewer patients.
The month-long lockdown on the country “is starting to pay off,” said Solomon, while urging, “We must continue our efforts at containment.”
He described the decline in the number of intensive care units and hospitals as “slow but steady” and said that France was now witnessing a slowdown in the spread of the epidemic.
He said the spread “had been very well mitigated by all French people” by respecting sequestration orders and outside social distance recommendations.
“We have severely broken the epidemic, which was very contagious at first, with a virus that was transmitted to a very large number of people,” said Salomon.
Neighboring Germany, which said on Friday that it had the virus under control, recorded far fewer deaths related to COVID-19 than France. But Solomon said it was too early to make comparisons between different countries.
“There is a heterogeneity in Europe that we cannot explain at the moment. There are countries which are very affected – like Belgium which is more affected than France – and Great Britain too is badly affected. “
France has been blocked since March 17 in an effort to slow the spread of the epidemic. But President Emmanuel Macron announced this week that the lockdown could start easing from May 11.
He said schools could reopen gradually, but cafes, cinemas and cultural venues would remain closed and there could not be summer festivals until mid-July at the earliest.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Minister of Health Olivier Veran are due to give a press conference on Sunday during which they should explain how the lock can be eased.
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