France - covid-19

French ICU numbers fall further as bars, restaurants prepare to reopen

A caregiver in the room of a patient in intensive care in the Robert Boulin hospital, in Libourne, in the south-western department of Gironde.
A caregiver in the room of a patient in intensive care in the Robert Boulin hospital, in Libourne, in the south-western department of Gironde. © AFP/Philippe Lopez

The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care across France dropped for a 12th consecutive day on Saturday, with the number of deaths also continuing to decline, as the country prepares to begin easing lockdown restrictions on Wednesday.

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French health authorities reported 81 fewer people in intensive care units, bringing the total to 4,271. 

The country also reported a daily total of 112 hospital deaths from Covid-19, down from 173 a day earlier.

The French government is to begin lifting some coronavirus restrictions from 19 May with bars and restaurants to reopen for outdoor terrace service, as well as non-essential shops, for the first time since 30 October. 

Museums, cinemas and theatres will also welcome back a culture-starved public, with health precautions such as reduced capacity in place. 

Over the past week, France has stepped up its vaccination campaign, meeting its mid-May target of 20 million people, a third of the population, with at least one anti-Covid injection.

"The situation is improving, we are in a position to move on to the next phase," Prime Minister Jean Castex said on television. 

Health authorities aims to have 30 million first injections administered by 15 June, when President Emmanuel Macron has said all age restrictions will be removed for booking vaccination appointments.

Adults aged 18-54 can currently sign up for same or next day injections if eligible people do not show up for their appointments. 

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