26, March 2020
French health authorities reported 365 new deaths from coronavirus on Thursday, taking the total to 1,696.
The rise in the number of deaths represents a daily rise of 27 percent, a marked increase from the previous day with France now in its second week of lockdown.
This daily government tally only accounts for those dying in hospital, but authorities said they would soon be able to compile data on deaths in retirement homes, which is likely to result in a big increase in registered fatalities.
During a press conference, health agency director Jérôme Salomon added that the number of cases had risen to 29,155, a rise of 16 percent in 24 hours.
Salomon said 3,375 people were in a serious condition needing life support, up 19 percent compared to Wednesday and meaning that close to half of France’s 8,000 beds equipped with ventilation gear are occupied.
French economy operating at 65 percent
The rise in coronavirus tolls came as the official INSEE statistical agency said French economic activity and household spending are running at about 65 percent of normal levels due to the coronavirus outbreak.
INSEE gave the first picture of the impact of the nationwide lockdown as it published its monthly business confidence index, which saw its biggest single drop since records began in 1980.
The index fell to 95 points from 105 points in February with even steeper declines seen in the services and retail sectors, INSEE said.
The French government has prepared a €45 billion package – 2 percent of GDP – of crisis measures made up mainly of deferred taxes and payroll charges for companies, and payments to companies who put workers on reduced schedules.
Additionally, the government is guaranteeing up to €300 billion euros – 15 percent of GDP – of corporate borrowing from commercial banks to keep credit flowing to the economy.
INSEE said it was too early to try to forecast how deep the downturn would be, but it estimated that each month of confinement would reduce economic activity by 12 percentage points on a quarterly basis and 3 percentage points on an annual basis.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)