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HEALTH

Coronavirus: Death toll in France passes 3,000 after record 418 fatalities in one day

France on Monday reported its highest daily number of deaths since the coronavirus epidemic began, saying 418 more people had died in hospital to bring the toll to 3,024.

Coronavirus: Death toll in France passes 3,000 after record 418 fatalities in one day
Photo: AFP

There are now 20,946 people hospitalised in France with COVID-19, with 5,107 of them in intensive care, the government said in its daily update. 

French health chief Jérôme Salomon said the number of coronavirus patients in intensive care had risen by 424 in the last 24 hours, a bigger rise than on Sunday when another 350 patients were admitted to intensive care.

Of over 5,000 intensive care patients, 34 percent were aged below 60. Sixty-four of them were younger than 30 years old. 

Salomon said 'the number of people in intensive care is the most important” indicator of the epidemic development.

The French death toll includes only those who died in hospital and not those who died at home or in old people's homes, and the total contamination rate only includes those who have been tested.

In recent days authorities have warned that the situation will worsen in the Paris region of Île-de-France, where 954 people have now died, an additional 147 since Sunday.

The map below shows up to date numbers for the number of people in intensive care (réanimation) in hospitals around France.

READ ALSO: In Maps: How the coronavirus epidemic has hit different parts of France

 

As hospitals are becoming increasingly strained, France is anxiously awaiting the coronavirus epidemic to reach its peak and the growth in the number of new cases and patients to slow down.

“We are starting to lack beds across the entire (Paris) region,” said Célestin-Alexis Agbessi, a doctor at the Bichat Hospital in the 18th arrondissement in Paris. “We have transformed all sectors of the hospital to an intensive care unit.”

READ ALSO: When will the coronavirus epidemic peak in France?

Salomon noted that the growth in infections in neighbouring Italy had seen a “relative slowing” in the last days and expressed hope that the figures in France could show signs of improvement at the end of this week.

“Starting this week we should see a decrease in the number of new intensive care patients,” Salomon said.

Currently, the total number of intensive care patients in France outnumbered the number of available beds.

“We have 5,000 intensive care bed in France (..). We are aiming for 10,000 beds,” Salomon said. 
 
He also said that France at the end of the week would be able to do 20,000 tests a day, up from 12,000 today.
 

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POLITICS

‘Public opinion is ready’ – These French senators want to legalise marijuana

A group of 31 French senators of the Socialist, Green and Republican parties have come together to write a statement calling for the legalisation of marijuana in France.

'Public opinion is ready' - These French senators want to legalise marijuana

France is known for having some of the strictest laws regarding marijuana consumption in Europe – while simultaneously maintaining one of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the EU. 

A group of French senators – coming from the Socialist, Green and centre-right Les Républicains parties – are trying to change those laws, and have come together to call for marijuana to be legalised in France.

The group of 31 co-signed a statement published in French newspaper, Le Monde, on Wednesday, August 10th.

In the statement, the senators promised to launch a ‘consultation process’ to submit a bill to legalise marijuana “in the coming months.”

The proposition was headed by Senator Gilbert-Luc Devinaz, a member of the Socialist Party, and gained support from the party’s leader, Patrick Kanner.

READ MORE: The long and winding road towards changing France’s cannabis laws

A report by the Assemblé Nationale, which was published in May 2021, estimated that nearly 18 million French people (more than 25 percent of the population) had already consumed marijuana, and that an additional 1.5 million consume it regularly.

This, coupled with the 2019 finding that nearly one in two French people (45 percent) said they were in favour of legalisation, according to a survey by the French Observatory of Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), helped strengthen the senators’ position.

“Public opinion is ready, the legislature must act,” they wrote.

Their senators argue that legalising marijuana in France will allow the authorities to better protect French citizens, saying that legalising would not require “minimising the health impacts of cannabis consumption” but rather would allow regulation similar to “public policies for tobacco, alcohol or gambling.”

For the group of 31 senators, the benefits of legalisation would involve a better control over the “health quality of products consumed,” “curbing trafficking in disadvantaged areas,” developing large-scale prevention plans,” and finally the taxation of cannabis products and redirection of law enforcement resources. Decriminalisation – in their opinion – would not be sufficient as this would simply “deprive authorities the ability to act,” in contrast to legalisation. 

READ MORE: Is France moving towards legalising cannabis for recreational purposes?

“In the long term, new tax revenues would be generated from the cannabis trade and from savings in the justice and police sectors”, which would make it possible to mobilize “significant resources for prevention as well as for rehabilitation and economic development,” wrote the senators.

In France, the conversation around cannabis has evolved in recent years – former Health Minister (and current government spokesman) Olivier Véran said to France Bleu in September 2021 that “countries that have gone towards legalisation have results better than those of France in the last ten years,” adding that he was interested in the potential therapeutic use of cannabis.

Currently, the drug is illegal in France. Previously, it fell under a 1970-law of illicit drug use, making it punishable with up to a year prison and an up to €3,750 fine.

However, in 2020, the government softened the penalties, making it possible for those caught consuming it to opt for an on-the-spot fine of €200.

There is also an ongoing trial involving 3,000 patients to test the impacts of medical marijuana usage, particularly with regard to pain relief. 

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