France records 243 new coronavirus deaths

France reported another 243 coronavirus deaths on Friday, raising its total toll to 26,230, while the number of patients in intensive care continued to fall.

France records 243 new coronavirus deaths

While the country has been one of the hardest hit in Europe, it has seen the daily death rate steadily drop and is due to start emerging from a strict lockdown on Monday.

In Friday's daily update, France reported 93 fewer patients suffering from the coronavirus in intensive care, dropping the total to 2,868.

The figure rose above 7,000 at the peak of the country's epidemic in April. Over the previous 24 hours, 111 coronavirus-linked deaths were recorded in hospitals and 132 in nursing homes.

Nationwide, there were 22,274 patients in hospital with COVID-19.

The lockdown in place since mid-March will start to ease on Monday.

The Ile-de-France region around Paris, Hauts-de-France in the north, Grand Est in the east and central eastern Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes account for 72 percent of hospitalisations, according to authorities.

The first three, as well as the southeastern region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comte, still carry a red classification denoting heightened concern. In those areas the restrictions will lift more slowly.

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French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

With France in the middle of a new wave of Covid-19, the country's health minister has urged the public to once again wear face masks on public transport and in crowded spaces.

French public urged to wear face masks again on public transport

With cases on the rise again, French Health Minister Brigitte Bourguignon said she is “[asking] the French to put masks back on in transport” in an interview with RTL on Monday, 

For the time being, however, she stressed it was just advice, rather than an obligation, and masks have in fact been recommended on public transport since the legal requirement to wear them was lifted in May. 

However with France reporting over 50,000 daily cases of Covid-19 the government is clearly concerned by the current wave of the pandemic.

Bourguignon said that “we must protect ourselves and protect others,” adding that wearing a mask is “a civic gesture.”

She urged people to don their masks as soon as they see a crowded train or station.

READ MORE: Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

In addition to public transport, Bourguignon is also asking the French to once again mask-up in “all crowded, enclosed areas.”

Currently, masks are only required in hospitals, health centres and places that have vulnerable residents such as nursing homes. They are recommended in crowded spaces where it is impossible to practice social distancing.