France reports 642 more coronavirus deaths as country’s toll hits 19,323 up from 18,681

Breaking news: France reports 642 more coronavirus deaths as country’s toll hits 19,323 up from 18,681

  • France has recorded fourth-highest death toll in the world from coronavirus
  • Health ministry said 364 deaths were in hospitals and 278 in nursing homes
  • Only the US, Spain and Italy have recorded a higher death toll from Covid-19 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

France has reported 642 more deaths from coronavirus bringing the country’s total to 19,323, the fourth-highest tally in the world.

The country’s health ministry said 364 of the deaths were in hospitals and a further 278 were in nursing homes. 

The number of people in intensive care units fell for the 10th consecutive day, dropping by 194 to 5,833. This is the lowest level since March 31. 

As many as 111,821 cases of coronavirus have been identified in the country. 

The front of the Opera house in Paris today during the country’s nationwide lockdown

Demand for equipment and human resources in intensive care remains at an ‘exceptional level, far higher than the usual level,’ a statement released by the French health ministry said today.

A nationwide lockdown was declared on March 17 to curb the spread of the virus. But President Emmanuel Macron has said that it could be eased from May 11.

Schools could gradually reopen then, he said – but cafes, cinemas and cultural venues would remain closed, and there could be no summer festivals until mid-July at the earliest.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Health Minister Olivier Veran are due on Sunday to give a news conference on how France is dealing with the virus. They are expected to be pressed on how the lockdown can be eased from May 11.

Social distancing measures brought in by France to curb the virus’s spread include orders to stand at least a metre away from others and to stay at home. 

Statistics office Insee said in March that the lockdown has slashed overall economic activity by 35 per cent, and estimated that every month of shutdown would cut annual GDP by three percentage points. 

Services, heavy industry and construction are all taking big hits, Insee said, as factories are shut and only a handful of business sectors, such as supermarkets and pharmacies, remain open.

Only the US, Spain and Italy have registered higher death rates than the country. 

This is a breaking news story. More follows…