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Coronavirus cases near 30,000 in France, death toll at 1,696

Published : 27 Mar 2020, 02:36

  DF-Xinhua Report

A citizen shows a candle placed at the window in Paris, France, March 25, 2020. Photo Xinhua.

A further 365 people have died of COVID-19 in France in 24 hours, raising the total fatalities to 1,696, Director General of Health Jerome Salomon said on Thursday.

A 16-year-old girl in the north-central French region of Ile-de-France had died of the virus, Salomon said, giving a daily update on the coronavirus crisis.

Declining to give details of the teenager's death, Salomon said: "This is very sad news but important because severe cases in young people are extremely rare."

Currently, the number of deaths only takes into account those who died in hospital, Salomon noted. Deaths in retirement homes and at home will soon be compiled, which is likely to result in a big increase in fatalities, he added.

Meanwhile he confirmed increasing mortality of people older than 65 years in five regions, notably in Corisica where daily fatalities jumped by 39.2 percent, followed by Grand Est, near the German borders, with a 29.9 percent rise.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in France rose by 3,922 within one day to 29,155, while 13,904 patients were hospitalized, Salomon added.

The official also announced "good news" about the recovery of 4,948 patients who were discharged from hospital, up 27 percent from Wednesday. "It shows that an overwhelming majority of people are cured of this disease," said Salomon.

Among the hospitalized, some 3,375 patients require life support, up by 19.4 percent from Wednesday. That meant nearly half of the country's 8,000 beds equipped with ventilators have already been occupied, increasing further pressure on strained hospitals.

In Ile-de-France, the most populous and now the worst-hit region in France, a total of 483 deaths have been registered since the start of the epidemic, according to data released by the regional health agency.

In the last 24 hours, this region, also called "la region parisienne" (Paris Region) as it includes the city of Paris, has recorded 1,102 new infection cases -- bringing the total to 8,762, and 88 more deaths. A total of 1,297 patients are in intensive care units, with an average age of 58.

Early on Thursday, a medicalized high speed train TGV transported 20 patients in serious condition from the Grant Est region to the western city of Nantes, so as to help alleviate the burden on hospitals in the country's hard-hit area.

"France is facing an unprecedented, serious epidemic. All of us should show solidarity. The confinement measure is absolutely necessary to curb as much as possible the epidemic and avoid the saturation of our hospitals," Salomon reiterated.

"It's difficult to say when the peak will occur since there are several aspects involved, such as the one related to the confinement impact ... The next few days will certainly be difficult but after that, there will be an improvement," he added.

France has instituted a two-week nationwide lockdown on March 17, and it would likely be extended. "In order to save lives, stay home," said Salomon.