A city employee removes barriers preventing access to the beach, as France softens its strict lockdown rules during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Pornic, France, May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe
PARIS (Reuters) – France’s new coronavirus deaths reported on Friday were three times lower than 24 hours earlier while new confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease kept on rising at the same slow rate of 0.4%, as the country continues to unwind its lockdown.
In a statement, the health ministry said there were 104 new fatalities compared to 351 on Thursday, bringing the total to 27,529, still the fourth-highest in the world, after those of the United States, Britain and Italy, and just ahead of Spain.
In a statement, the ministry added the number of confirmed cases was up 563 to 141,919.
“The COVID-19 epidemic is still active in France so must we remain cautious (…)”, the ministry said, also mentioning the case of a 9-year-old boy who died a week ago in the southern town of Marseille after developing a syndrome akin to Kawasaki disease and being in contact with the coronavirus though not suffering from any of its symptoms.
This new life-threatening inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 has affected 230 children in Europe and killed two so far this year, the second fatality having occurred in Britain.
The health ministry said the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 infection declined by 602 to 19,861 on Friday, the total falling below the 20,000 threshold for the first time since March 29. The number of people in intensive care was down 96 to 2,203.
Both numbers – key indicators for the French health system’s ability to cope with the epidemic – have been on a downtrend for four to five weeks and peaked at over 32,000 and over 7,000 respectively in early to mid-April.
Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Chris Reese and Sandra Maler
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