France reports 359 new COVID-19 deaths, ICU admissions hit new high
The number of deaths caused by the coronavirus in France increased by 359 in one day on Monday, and the number of serious COVID-19 cases treated in intensive care units (ICUs) surged to its highest level since late November 2020, France's health authorities' said on Monday, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
Since the start of the pandemic, France has registered 88,933 COVID-19-related fatalities. The cumulative number of hospitalized patients now exceeds 25,000 after 377 new admissions in the past 24 hours, the biggest daily jump since Feb. 12. Of them, 3,849 are on ventilator, 106 more than on Sunday.
On Monday, 5,327 people tested positive for the coronavirus against 21,825 confirmed the day before, and up from 4,703 last Monday. The number of coronavirus infections reported on Mondays tends to be lower because fewer people are tested on weekends.
The health service (ARS) of the Greater Paris Region has issued "a firm order" to delay 40 percent of surgeries to free up more beds for COVID-19 patients, according to Aurelien Rousseau, general director of ARS Ile-de-France.
"We are in a situation of very strong tension, with 973 patients currently in intensive care for less than 1,050 beds available (in Ile-de-France)," Rousseau was quoted as saying by local media.
To Gilles Pialoux, head of the infectious diseases department at Tenon Hospital in Paris, canceling surgeries was "an admission of failure to control the epidemic."
"We are going to have extremely difficult weeks... We are clearly losing control," Pialoux told France Info radio.
The country's 23 departments, including Paris and the surroundings areas, have been placed under "reinforced surveillance" after they each reported 250 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, with the new virus variants making up half of the total positive tests.
The government staved off a third nationwide lockdown but ordered the closure of large malls, reinforced the mask-wearing rule in all urban areas in high-risk regions and called on people to limit their travel as much as possible.
As of Monday, 3,881,967 citizens had received at least one vaccine dose since France launched its vaccination campaign at the end of last year.
France plans to inoculate ten million citizens by mid-April, 20 million by mid-May and 30 million, or two-thirds of the country's adult population, by summer.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in an increasing number of countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 261 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 79 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on March 5.