COVID-19 cases in France plunge while deaths double

PARIS

France recorded a sharp fall in coronavirus cases Monday, despite fatalities doubling from the day before.    

Infections plunged to 3,063 from 11,533 on Sunday, a welcome development as the lockdown is due to be lifted Tuesday.  

The total number of infections since record-keeping began in March stands at 2,379,915, according to the Ministry of Health. 

Fatalities more than doubled, however, to 372 from 155 on Sunday. The official death toll since March stands at 58,282. 

Hospitalizations rose as well, but not substantially, to 8,722 from 8,608 the previous day. A total of 1,159 people remain in intensive care, down by 13 patients from the day before. 

The positivity rate continues to drop, another positive sign of the virus’s waning. It was registered at 6.2% on Monday. 

Worldwide, the death toll from COVID-19 stands at just over 1.6 million in 191 countries since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China in late December 2019. The number of infections is over 72.6 million while recoveries total more than 47.4 million, according to the latest figures from US-based Johns Hopkins University. 

Large screening campaigns began Monday in the cities of Charleville-Mézières, located in the easternmost region of France, and Le Havre, the northern port town where former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is now mayor. The move attempts to screen the majority of these populations before end-of-year holiday celebrations kick in. 

Demonstrations were held Monday in Paris by restaurateurs over the continued closure of establishments. All cafes, restaurants and bars are to remain shuttered until Jan. 20, given their position as places of socialization, thus having great potential to spread the virus. 

“We are a profession which is totally desperate today,” said Didier Chenet, president of the Group of Independent Hotel and Catering Companies, as reported by FranceInfo. 

President announced their closure in a televised address at the end of November, a blow to an already struggling industry that suffered through two and a half months of lockdown earlier in the year.  

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said in an interview Monday morning with FranceInfo television, however, that he could not now guarantee their opening a month hence. 

“I cannot tell you with certainty that we will reopen bars and restaurants on Jan. 20. It would be dishonest on my part,” he said, maintaining his cautious stance and saying that doing so depends on the progression of the second wave of COVID-19. 

Le Maire did, however, stress that restaurateurs would be compensated as promised.​​​​​​​ 

“We will continue to support them. All these restaurants can have compensation of 20% of their turnover compared to 2019. We want to cover all their fixed costs, and if additional measures are necessary here or there, we will be there.”

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