France’s COVID-19 death toll up by 66 to 28,596

With 66 new deaths of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, France’s death toll from the coronavirus-caused disease has risen to 28,596 as of Wednesday, according to official figures.

The number of fatalities rose by 65 to 18,260 in hospitals while the death toll in nursing homes and medico-social establishments, which was 10,335 on Tuesday, would be updated on Friday, said the Health Ministry, Xinhua reported.

As of Wednesday, 15,680 people with the COVID-19 remained hospitalized, 584 down from a day before. The number of patients in intensive care, a key gauge to evaluate the health system’s ability to cope with the epidemic, fell by 54 to 1,501, confirming a downward trend for the sixth week in a row.

The government is preparing a second phase of rules relaxation, which could include the reopening of bars, cafes and restaurants in some regions. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe will unveil the details on Thursday afternoon.

France has started to lift a national lockdown on May 11 by reinforcing testing capacity, reopening gradually schools and shops, allowing people to move freely, while maintaining distancing rules and barrier gestures.

In a further move to prevent an eventual second wave of the epidemic, French lawmakers on Wednesday gave the green light to deploy “StopCOVID” contact-tracing smartphone app that could warn people voluntarily using it if they come into contact with a coronavirus carrier.

The state-supported app will be launched on June 2 when the second phase of deconfinement begins.