How France’s coronavirus 1,355 death toll hits world record

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French President Emmanuel Macron addresses a press conference on the second day of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Brussels on July 12, 2018. / AFP / POOL / LUDOVIC MARIN

The coronavirus death count in France surged to nearly 5,400 people on Thursday, after the health ministry included nursing home fatalities in its data.

Jerome Salomon, head of the health authority said the pandemic had claimed the lives of 4,503 patients in hospitals by Thursday, up 12% on the previous day’s 4,032.

But a provisional tally in nursing homes and other care facilities, showed the virus had killed another 884 people.

This makes for a total of 5,387 lives lost to coronavirus in France – an increase of 1,355 over Wednesday’s cumulative total, and a new world record after Spain’s 951 deaths.

France’s record was still conservative as the entire deaths from all of the country’s 7,400 nursing homes were not captured.

“We are in France confronting an exceptional epidemic with an unprecedented impact on public health,” Salomon told a news conference.

More than 1 million people live in France’s care homes.

More than two-thirds of all the known nursing home deaths have been registered in France’s Grand Est region, which abuts the border with Germany.

It was the first region in France to be overwhelmed by a wave of infections.

The infections rapidly moved west to engulf greater Paris.

There, hospitals are desperately trying to add intensive care beds to cope with the influx of critically ill patients.