France has registered 20,265 COVID-19 deaths, becoming the fourth country to surpass 20,000 COVID-19 deaths after the United States, Italy and Spain, Director-General of Health Jerome Salomon announced on Monday.
During a daily press conference, Salomon said the human loss caused by the coronavirus-caused disease stood at 20,265, up by 547 compared with Sunday’s 19,718, faster than Sunday’s 395.
“Our country crossed a symbolic and particularly painful threshold,” said the health official.
“Despite the efforts of the French to scrupulously respect confinement, physical and social distancing and barrier gestures, the epidemic is very deadly,” he said, adding “We must remain vigilant, mobilized and aware that our efforts should continue.”
But the number of new hospitalisations and serious cases continued to slow down, according to Salomon.
The head of the public health authority said the number of people in hospital had declined for a sixth straight day, and that the total number in intensive care units (ICUs) had fallen for the 12th day in a row.
The number of people receiving treatment in hospitals is 30,584, down by 26, according to the press conference.
At resuscitation units, the number of critically-ill patients dropped by 61 to 5,863. Admissions to the ICUs were still above the country’s capacity of 5,000 hospital beds with ventilators.
“There is very small drop, the decline is very slow,” Salomon said, confirming “a very high plateau.”
Thanks to tough measures to limit people movement and strict respect of barrier gestures, the coronavirus contagion rate “has decreased rapidly,” he said.
Each person infected with the COVID-19 is passing the disease to less than one other person on average from a transmission rate of three people recorded before the lockdown was imposed, he added.
On Sunday, France Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the coronavirus pandemic situation was improving “slowly but surely” thanks to the month-long confinement, but the health crisis is not over yet and a return to normal life is not to be expected for the short term.