France has become the fourth nation to see its coronavirus death toll exceed 3,000 following its worst day for fatalities since the outbreak began.

Prime Minister Edouard Phlippe warned the hardest weeks of the pandemic were still to come for the country as deaths climbed by 418 in the space of 24 hours.

The latest deaths mean only Italy, Spain and China have recorded greater loss of life linked to the pandemic.

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Among those to die across the weekend in France was a doctor who had been close to retirement and was providing frontline medical care for those suffering with the virus.

“We will use this rage from his death to fight more and more and be tougher than this virus,” Aurelien Rousseau, director general of the Paris region health authority, said in a letter which has since been made public.

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Agnetha Septimus, Matthew Septimus, and children Ezra and Nora

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Husband and wife filmmakers, Claire Ince and Ancil McKain pose for a portrait for the series by Shutterstock Staff Photographer, Stephen Lovekin, shot around the Ditmas Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York

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Khadijah Silver and son Eliot

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Mike Pergola and Denise Pergola with children Henry, Jack, and Will

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Artist Shirley Fuerst

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Jean Davis and Danny Rosenthal, with children Simone, Naomi, and Leah

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Lisa Draho and Josh Zuckerman, with children Ruby and Ava

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Professor and activist Dr Kristin Lawler

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Tom Smith and Laura Ross, with daughters Caroline, Elizabeth, and Abigail

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Callie Lovekin and Lucas Lovekin

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Agnetha Septimus, Matthew Septimus, and children Ezra and Nora

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Husband and wife filmmakers, Claire Ince and Ancil McKain pose for a portrait for the series by Shutterstock Staff Photographer, Stephen Lovekin, shot around the Ditmas Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Khadijah Silver and son Eliot

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Anna Beth Rousakis and daughter Mary Rousakis

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Mike Pergola and Denise Pergola with children Henry, Jack, and Will

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Artist Shirley Fuerst

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Jean Davis and Danny Rosenthal, with children Simone, Naomi, and Leah

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Robert E Clark Jr

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Lisa Draho and Josh Zuckerman, with children Ruby and Ava

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Professor and activist Dr Kristin Lawler

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Tom Smith and Laura Ross, with daughters Caroline, Elizabeth, and Abigail

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

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Callie Lovekin and Lucas Lovekin

Stephen Lovekin/REX/Shutterstock

While deaths increased by 16 per cent to 3,024, the number of intensive care cases rose by 10 per cent to 5,107. The increase marked the first rise in the figure after a hopeful two days of decline in ICU referrals.

“Today in the pulmonology unit we are as full as full can be,” said Jerome Pinot, a physician at the Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris.

“To find a place in intensive care is a never-ending headache. We ask ourselves whether we can move this patient to this unit to take another patient. It’s an incessant game.”

Hundreds of patients have been evacuated from hospitals in France’s hardest hit areas, with some carried by military aircraft and high-speed trains during transfers to medical facilities elsewhere in the country and even in Germany.

Officials hope the strategy will ease the strain on stricken regions so that areas including Paris could again take patients once the expected peak of the outbreak is over in two weeks time.

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It comes as the nation’s health officials wait to see if a national lockdown will begin to turn the tide against the virus, which has claimed the lives of more than 37,000 people worldwide and infected more than 780,000.

“We are not in a drop at the moment. We hope that this increase will be more modest in the coming days”, said Jerome Salomon, head of the French public health authority.

“The growth phase of the epidemic in the region will probably last two weeks,” said Pierre Delobel, head of the infectious and tropical diseases unit at the University Hospital in Toulouse, where the number of cases has jumped from eight to 40 in a week.

“Then there will be a slowdown but that does not mean a decrease, it will go up less quickly”.

Additional reporting by Reuters



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