Paris: A senior health official said on Wednesday that more than 17,000 people are currently dying of COVID-19 in France, but the number of hospitalizations has declined for the first time since the epidemic began.
Jerome Salomon told reporters that 17,167 people have been confirmed dead in hospitals and nursing homes in France, compared with 15,729 deaths the day before.
But he said that due to the delay in data collation since the Easter weekend, the difference between these two numbers does not represent a daily toll.
In better news, he said there were currently 513 fewer coronavirus patients in hospital than the day before. “It remains very high but… the total shows for the first time a fall thanks to people who have been discharged.”
In another encouraging sign, the total number in intensive care fell for the seventh day in a row, this time by 273 patients.
“A slight fall in the demand for intensive care is being confirmed,” Salomon said, while adding that there was still pressure in some regions such as eastern France and the Paris area.
Since March 17, France has been in a state of blockade with the aim of slowing the spread of the epidemic and allowing only necessary travel.
President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that the French epidemic “began to stabilize” and added that the blockade may begin to ease from May 11.
He said that the school may gradually reopen at that time, but cafes, movie theaters and cultural venues will remain closed, and the summer festivals will not be held until the middle of July at the earliest.