WORLD France says no sign of virus rise after lockdown eased


France says no sign of virus rise after lockdown eased


09:01, May 21, 2020


People keeps social distancing as they wait for train at the La Chapelle metro station, on April 24, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

There is no sign yet that France's easing of a lockdown to combat the coronavirus has boosted the epidemic, the health minister said Wednesday, as the latest figures showed daily deaths trending lower.

France on May 11 eased its almost two-month lockdown in a bid to revive an economy clobbered by the epidemic.

Health Minister Oliver Veran warned that it was too early to assess the impact of the easing. But he added there was so far no sign that the virus was regaining impetus.

"It takes at least 10 to 15 days for us to know if there is an impact on the epidemic," he told reporters after a cabinet meeting, while noting that the numbers in hospitals and intensive care were continuing to fall.

"So we are not seeing a revival in the circulation of the virus, but that does not mean that the virus is not circulating," he added.

Adding to the cautious message as many in France prepare for a long weekend to mark Ascension, President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter: "The epidemic is not behind us. We will not slow down in our efforts."

According to the latest health ministry figures, 110 more deaths were recorded over the last 24 hours in hospitals and nursing homes, lifting France's total death toll from the epidemic to 28,132.

The total number of people in intensive care -- a number that soared to over 7,000 at the peak of the crisis -- fell to 1,794, down 100 from the previous day.

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