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France reports record 499 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, brings death toll to 3,523

PARIS: France on Tuesday reported its highest daily number of deaths from COVID-19 since the coronavirus epidemic began, saying 499 more people had died in hospital to bring the toll to 3,523.

There are now 22,757 people hospitalised in France with COVID-19, with 5,565 of them in intensive care, health official Jerome Salomon told reporters in his daily update.

The French death toll includes only those who died in hospital and not those who died at home or in old people’s homes.

The number of confirmed cases also rose steeply by 7,578 to 52,128. Many cases, however, go unregistered because of a lack of testing equipment.

“This situation is completely unprecedented in the history of French medicine,” said Salomon.

France has been in lockdown since March 17 in a bid to slow the spread of the epidemic and officials have repeatedly warned it will take time for the measures to bear fruit.

Salomon said hospitals in eastern France — one of the hubs of the outbreak — were under “great tension” and in Paris and it’s wider surroundings the situation was also “difficult”.

As a result, France has been moving some patients to other regions or even abroad to neighbouring countries.

Salomon said 288 patients had been transferred to regions under less pressure so far and this number would increase in the days to come.

He confirmed that on Wednesday a specially equipped train would transfer 36 patients from Paris to Brittany.