The number of coronavirus infection cases totaled 44,550 in France, of which 3,024 had died, General Director of Health Jerome Salomon said on Monday.
The total infection increased by 4,376 in 24 hours, while the deaths increased by 418.
Nearly 21,000 patients were hospitalized, of whom 5,107 needed intensive care, an increase of 475 in one day.
That meant half of the country’s 10,000 beds equipped with ventilators have already been occupied.
By canceling non-essential operations and organizing recovery and operating rooms, hospitals offer now 10,000 beds, double the capacity when the outbreak began. The government aims to offer 14,500 beds.
“It is the daily number of patients in intensive care which is the most important indicator to follow the evolution of the epidemic, and to evaluate the confinement’s impact,” Salomon said.
“We are fighting the COVID-19 epidemic … The containment instruction are clear: stay home to avoid more deaths, further serious cases,” he reiterated.
France, on March 17, has imposed a two-week virtual lockdown to stem contagion. Tough restrictions on people’s movement would remain in place until at least April 15.
“From this weekend, we should have fewer people arriving at the hospital and in intensive care,” said Salomon.
Meanwhile, the return to normal life won’t be soon, according to the health official.
“Lifting the lockdown must be done carefully, based on scientific expertise on the situation of the epidemic, the positivity rate, the number of estimated cases, the means that we have, and the level of immunity,” he said.