PARIS (Reuters) – The number of people who died from coronavirus infection in France jumped by 1,438 or 9.1% to 17,167 in the biggest single-day increase as a number of nursing homes reported cumulative tolls following the three-day Easter weekend, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
The number of people who died in hospitals rose by 514 or 5% to 10,643, less than the 541 reported on Tuesday, but the cumulative death toll in nursing homes rose by 924 or 17% to 6,524, compared with 221 on Tuesday.
“This increase is not the mortality rate over 24 hours but is due to a catch-up in reporting of data following the three-day weekend,” Health Ministry Director Jerome Salomon said.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic is still highly active and called on French people to strictly respect confinement measures.
But he also reported that for the first time since the start of the epidemic, the number of people in hospital for COVID-19 had fallen by 513 or 1.6% to 31,779 in a sign that the infection rate is slowing and that confinement is working.
“This is the first fall. We must welcome it but we must remain careful and await the evolution in the next few days,” Salomon said.
The number of people in intensive care units (ICU) also fell for the seventh day in a row, by 273 or 4.1% to 6,457 and now stands well below the peak of 7,148 seen on April 8.
In Italy, the number of people in ICU fell for the 12th day in a row on Wednesday and is now at 3,079, nearly 1,000 below the peak of 4,068 seen early April.
In another sign that the infection rate is slowing, the number of reported coronavirus cases in France rose by 3,217 or just 2.5% to a total of 133,470. The number of confirmed cases rose 2.5% to 106,206 and the number of probable cases in nursing homes was up 2.2% to 27,264
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Geert De Clercq; editing by Grant McCool and Jonathan Oatis)