French COVID-19 death toll passes 10,000

France has thanked caregivers on World Health Day as 10,328 coronavirus deaths were recorded.
France has thanked caregivers on World Health Day as 10,328 coronavirus deaths were recorded.

France has recorded 10,328 deaths of people suffering from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, General Health Director Jerome Salomon says.

The country has recorded 7091 deaths in hospitals and 3237 deaths in nursing homes and similar institutions, Salomon said in a daily briefing on Tuesday.

The numbers have picked up sharply since authorities started compiling systematic returns from old people's homes.

However the rise in hospital deaths, at 597 in 24 hours, was similar to Monday's increase.

France has not yet reached the peak of the epidemic, but there were signs it was slowing down, with only 59 new places needed in intensive care units across the country over 24 hours, Salomon said.

Latest figures showed a total of 7131 patients in intensive care, well over the 5000 intensive care beds that France had before it scrambled to expand capacity as the epidemic hit.

Salomon warned that it was far too early to talk about ending strict lockdown rules that came into effect on March 17, which are expected to be extended when they nominally expire on April 15.

Instead, the rules have been tightened in Paris, with city authorities announcing that from Wednesday, residents would be banned from taking outdoor exercise for most of the day.

Outdoor physical exercise would be forbidden between 10am and 7pm, Mayor Anne Hidalgo and police chief Didier Lallement said in a joint statement.

Exercise is one of the few accepted reasons for leaving the home during lockdown.

Other acceptable reasons include work, childcare, health appointments and buying essential supplies.

The government has already tightened the rules on exercise to restrict it to a maximum of one hour, once a day, within 1 kilometre of the home.

It must also be on foot, with swimming and cycling not acceptable forms of exercise, according to the Sports Ministry.

Parisians will still be able to take exercise between 7 pm and 10 am, "at the time when there is least crowding on the streets," Hidalgo and Lallement said.

Australian Associated Press