French coronavirus death toll reaches new record as retirement home count increases


PARIS (Reuters) – The total number of coronavirus deaths in France hit a new high on Saturday, as the government included more unreported deaths in retirement homes.

Residents applaud to pay tribute to medical staff as France faces aggressive progression of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Nice, France on April 4, 2020. The banner reads “Where are the masks, where are the tests “. / Photo taken on November 10, 2018 / REUTERS / Eric Gaillard

The Health Ministry reported on Saturday 441 new deaths from COVID-19 in hospitals across the country – less than the record number of 588 recorded on Friday – for a total of 5,532 hospital deaths.

For the third consecutive day, the ministry also reported a cumulative count of deaths in retirement homes since the start of the epidemic in early March, which had not been reported before.

This added 2,028 deaths to the national count for a total death toll of 7,560, an increase of 1,053 from the cumulative figure released on Friday.

Previously unreported, deaths in nursing homes now account for almost a third of all deaths from coronavirus.

“This pandemic is completely unprecedented. It is imperative that people respect internment, now is not the time to relax, “said Health Department director Jerome Salomon during a daily briefing.

Solomon said hospital-confirmed coronavirus infections increased an additional 4,267 cases to 68,605, an increase of 7% but slower than 9% on Friday.

But he also said that the number of “confirmed or possible” cases in retirement homes increased by 20% to 21,348. Solomon did not provide a breakdown between confirmed and possible cases.

Adding the cases of hospitals and retirement homes, France has 89,953 confirmed or suspected cases. Epidemiologists say the number of cases is difficult to compare to other countries because some have more extensive testing policies than France.

Salomon said 28,143 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 infection. This number showed a net 711 more admissions compared to the day before after 2,111 people were released.

A total of 6,838 severe cases of coronavirus were in intensive care units, he said. In the last 24 hours, 502 new cases have been admitted to intensive care – an increase of 3% – against 641 the day before and 729 on Thursday.

“This slower increase is good news, but we want a decrease. We are always seeing more patients every day in the intensive care units, which means more pressure, ”he said.

Italy reported on Saturday that the number of intensive care patients has declined for the first time.

The pressure was easing on the need to find new space in an intensive case, said Salomon. This trend was due to a higher number of departures, and was an important indicator of how hospitals coped and used the available resources.

“The number of people who have recovered is also increasing rapidly, as 15,438 people left the hospital cured and thousands more have been housebound and have also recovered,” said Solomon.

Report by Bate Felix and Geert De Clercq; Editing by David Clarke, Angus MacSwan and Daniel Wallis

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