France on Thursday reported that 365 people, including a 16-year-old girl, had died from the coronavirus over the last 24 hours, the country’s highest daily toll.
Top French health official Jerome Salomon told reporters that a total of 1,696 people had died in hospital in France from the virus, emphasising that the toll does not include those who died at home or at retirement homes.
He said that 29,155 people had tested positive for the virus so far in France, adding that the real number of cases was likely far higher as testing was reserved for high-risk patients.
As of now, 3,375 patients were in intensive care out of a total of 13,904 people hospitalised in France after becoming infected with the coronavirus, he said.
He said that the 16-year-old girl had died in the Ile-de-France region of Paris and its surroundings but said no further details would be given about the individual.
“Severe forms (of coronavirus) with the young are very rare,” he noted.
Salomon said that data showed that 42,000 people had been registered by their general doctor as having the coronavirus over the last week alone, again showing that testing in France is only revealing a minority of cases.
France has been in lockdown since March 17 in a bid to slow the spread of the epidemic and officials have repeatedly warned it will take time for the measures to bear fruit.
People in France are only allowed to step outside for pressing matters, such as shopping.
“It is very difficult to estimate when the peak will come… people who are ill now were infected before the confinement began,” explained Salomon.
“Now there is less contact, people are going out less and get infected less. So we hope there will be fewer people getting sick next week and fewer people going to the hospital.
“This is the aim of putting a brake on the epidemic and limiting the peak and saturation of the hospitals. The next days will certainly be hard but then we all hope there will be an improvement,” he said.