The death toll from coronavirus in France is slightly less than 26,000

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PARIS – The number of people who died from coronavirus infection in France rose 178 or 0.7% to 25,987 on Thursday, the lowest rate of increase in four days.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said earlier today that France would begin lifting its almost two-month-old national lockdown from Monday.

The Department of Health said in a statement that the number of people in intensive care units had dropped 186 or 5.9% to 2,961, a total below the 3,000 threshold for the first time since March 25 .

The number of people in intensive care – a key measure of a health care system’s ability to cope with the epidemic – is now well below half the peak of 7,148 on April 8.

The number of people hospitalized with a coronavirus also fell to 23,208 from 23,983, continuing an uninterrupted three-week drop and a drop of almost 30% from the peak of 32,292 recorded on April 14.

(Report by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Chris Reese)

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