On Thursday, France became the third country in Europe, after the United Kingdom and Italy, to cross the alarming milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths as infection rates and deaths increased due to new virus variants.
After a year of several coronavirus lockdowns, overloaded hospitals, and a huge number of fatal outcomes that have left communities around the country mourning the pandemic’s impact, the country with a 67 million population is the eighth in the world to hit the milestone.
French President Emmanuel Macron reacted with a message of solidarity.
“Since the start of the pandemic, 100,000 French women and men have succumbed to the virus. We all have a thought for their families, their loved ones, for the children who have lost a parent or a grandparent, the bereaved siblings, the broken friendships,” Macron said. “We will not forget a face, a name,” he added.
France added 300 additional deaths on Thursday to the prior day’s count of 99,777, increasing the number to 100,077.
Macron told the French newspaper Le Parisien, that he thinks of all of the people who died in the pandemic and their families.
The pandemic was “so cruel” to citizens who “were sometimes not able to accompany, during the last moments and in death, a father, a mother, a loved one, a friend,” Macron said. Nonetheless, the crisis also demonstrates “the ability of the French people to unite.”
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said it is too soon to set a date to mourn those who died because France is now dealing with another rapid increase in confirmed cases.
“There will be an homage for sure, a national mourning for the victims of COVID-19,” Attal said Wednesday. “That time will come. … today, we throw all our forces in the battle against the epidemic.”
According to experts, 100,000 COVID-19 deaths is an underestimated number by thousands. The analysis of death records shows that some COVID-19 cases were not reported, or patients were not tested on the virus until they died at home or in chronic treatment facilities.
Celia Prioux-Schwab, a social services worker, lost her 82-year-old grandmother in January, four days after she was discharged from the hospital in Reims — despite the fact that her family had no home-care alternative and she still had COVID-19.
She is now calling for a reform in French laws to allow relatives to visit hospitalized patients even during a pandemic, “to offer support, or even just to say goodbye.”
Since Macron declared “war” on the virus on March 17, 2020, when he announced the country’s first lockdown, the French have met domestic and foreign travel bans that have weighed heavily on regular living.
France entered a third, partial lockdown at the beginning of April, when new strains were on the rise and hospitals were approaching their full capacity. This week, the overall number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care in France surpassed 5,900. Schools will be closed, domestic traveling will be prohibited, and most non-essential stores will be closed.
A national nighttime curfew has been in effect since mid-December, and all bars, clubs, gyms, theatres, and museums in France have been closed since October.
A woman walks by empty restaurants in the center of Lyon, central France, Oct. 2, 2020. Photo by Laurent Cipriani/AP.
Macron was meeting with officials on Thursday to discuss a plan for the country’s gradual reopening. Authorities predict that 20 million citizens, or about 38% of France’s adult population, will have received at least one vaccination shot by that time, up from 11 million now.
France has recorded the highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Europe, with over 5.2 million cases.
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