PARIS, March 30 (KUNA) -- The number of infections in France from coronavirus surged again Monday to 44,550 from 40,174 on Sunday and the death toll rose by 418 in the past 24 hours to 3,024 from 2,606 the previous day, health authorities stated.
Director-General for Health, Jerome Salomon, said France is facing a "severe, murderous epidemic" and noted the strong rising death toll, which hiked nine percent last week.
Salomon indicated that there are now almost 21,000 people hospitalised for treatment of coronavirus and 5,107 of these are in critical condition requiring intensive care units (ICU) and are on respirators. The number of critical cases has risen by 475 in the past day.
The official further noted that 34 percent of patients in intensive care were under 65 years of age.
France is working hard to provide facilities for patients needing intensive care and is increasing capacity above the 5,000 beds available in ICU in the public sector. He said capacity was being gradually being pushed up to 8,000 and then 10,000.
Nonetheless, France over the weekend started seeking assistance from neighbouring countries and transported by helicopter a handful of patients to German and Switzerland.
Health authorities are also dispersing critically-ill patients now in crowded ICU wards to other cities around the country from Paris and Eastern France where hospitals are saturated.
On a more upbeat note, Salomon said that almost 8,000 people had been treated for the coronavirus infection and had fully recovered. He said, to his knowledge, there had been no re-infections with patients once they had recovered.
Salomon urged people to "stay home" as this was the best way to halt the propagation of the rapidly-spreading virus.
"We have had a sharp rise in intensive care cases and the number of beds for intensive care," he said, which is putting a severe strain on the health structure.
France is desperately ordering masks, respirators and other protective equipment from other countries and is also ramping up its domestic production of these items. (end)