France on Friday reported 761 more deaths from Covid-19 in hospitals and nursing homes over the last 24 hours but welcomed new falls in the total numbers of coronavirus patients.
The new deaths — 418 in hospitals and 343 in nursing homes — brought the total toll in the country from the epidemic to 18,681, AFP reported.
But in more positive news, the total numbers in hospital fell for the third day in a row — with 115 fewer patients — and the numbers in intensive care fell for the ninth consecutive day with 221 fewer patients.
The country’s month-long lockdown “is starting to bear fruit,” said top Health Official Jerome Salomon, while urging: “We have to continue our efforts in confinement.”
He described the fall in intensive care and hospital numbers as “slow but constant” and said France was seeing now a slowing in in spread of the epidemic.
He said spread “had been mitigated very well by all the French” through respecting the confinement orders and social distance recommendations while outside.
“We have strongly broken the epidemic which at the beginning was very contagious, with a virus that was being transmitted to a very large number of people,” said Salomon.
France has been in lockdown since March 17 in a bid to slow the spread of the epidemic. But President Emmanuel Macron announced this week that the lockdown could begin to be eased from May 11.
He said schools could gradually reopen then but cafes, cinemas and cultural venues would remain closed, and there could be no summer festivals until mid-July at the earliest.