Coronavirus patient numbers in France still falling as military hospital begins packing up

Coronavirus patient numbers in France still falling as military hospital begins packing up
Photo: AFP
France on Thursday reported 516 new deaths from coronavirus in the last 24 hours, bringing its overall toll to 21,856, the country's health department said.

But the number of patients in intensive care is continuing a two-week decline, it said in a statement.

“We nonetheless remain at an exceptional level, over and above maximum pre-crisis intensive care capacity in France” amounting to 5,000 beds, the health department said in a statement.

In the past 24 hours 311 people people have died in hospital, with a further 205 coronavirus deaths reported in nursing homes.

A majority of the deaths reported since the beginning of the outbreak (13,547) have been in hospital, with a further 8,309 in nursing and care homes.

Although hospitals across France are still receiving a steady stream of new cases the overall number of those who remain hospitalised with the virus continues to drop, underscoring an eight-day trend.

A total of 29,219 cases are now being treated in hospital, down 522 on Wednesday.

Since the start of the epidemic 42,088 people have left hospital, not taking into account the tens of thousands of people who recovered without being hospitalised, the health service said.

French authorities say the coming days are key if the country is to be able to meet a May 11th target to begin a gradual end to national lockdown measures imposed in mid-March.

The military hospital in Mulhouse, close to the German border. Photo: AFP

The fall in patient numbers comes as the military hospital set up in Mulhouse to take the pressure off hospitals in the worst affected Grand Est region begins to pack up.

One section of the hospital – comprising 10 intensive care beds with ventilators – has already been dismantled.

Another 20 beds remain operational, with 13 currently occupied, said army chiefs.

The hospital was set up in Mulhouse, where one of the earliest and worst clusters of coronavirus was detected, as local hospitals struggled to cope.

Hundreds of patients were also evacuated from the region, either airlifted over the border to Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg or Austria or taken by specially adapted train to other regions of France.

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