PARIS (Reuters) – French health authorities reported 110 new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, an increase of 0.4%, bringing the total to 28,132, the fourth-highest in the world behind the U.S., Britain and Italy.
The number of confirmed cases increased by 418 to 143,845, an increase of 0.3%, in line with the average rise per day seen since the unwinding of a national lockdown on May 11.
On Tuesday, the number of cases rose by 524 but the death toll had gone down due to adjustments reported by regional health centres in nursing homes.
In the last two weeks of the lockdown, the daily rise in the number of confirmed cases was on average 0.8%, an indicator closely watched by the government to ensure the gradual relaxation of measures does not trigger a feared second wave of the disease.
In an interview with newspaper Le Parisien, Genevieve Chene, head of health authority Sante publique France (SPF), says there are no signs the pandemic is picking up, despite some new infection clusters, but warned the virus “was still there”.
“We will have to wait until the end of next week to know if contaminations are on the rise again”, she said, adding that time frame represented the delay between incubation of the disease and the gathering of reliable infections data.
Chene also said that COVID-19 fatalities at home – not reported so far – should, in her view, account for only one percent of the total death toll, adding an official estimate should be published before the end of June.
Including 37,730 suspected cases in nursing homes, up 348 over 24 hours, the total number of confirmed and suspected infections was up by 0.4% to 181,575, putting France seventh worldwide by that measure behind Brazil.
The number of people in intensive care with COVID-19 declined by 5.3% to 1,794. The number of people in hospitals with the disease fell to 17,941 from 18,468 on Tuesday.
Both numbers – key indicators of the French health system’s ability to cope with the epidemic – have been on a downtrend for at least five weeks and peaked at more than 7,000 and 32,000 respectively in early to mid-April.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Geert De Clercq; Editing by Chris Reese and Elaine Hardcastle)