France's official Covid-19 death toll rose on Thursday to more than 100,000, marking a bleak milestone for President Emmanuel Macron's government.
Data from the health ministry said French hospitals registered another 300 Covid-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the overall tally to more than 100,000.
The country of 67 million is the eighth nation in the world to reach the mark after a year of overwhelmed hospitals, on-and-off coronavirus lockdowns and enormous personal losses that have left families nationwide grieving the pandemic’s impact.
The moment prompted a message of solidarity from President Emmanuel Macron.
“Since the start of the pandemic, 100,000 French women and men have succumbed to the virus. We are all thinking about their families, their loved ones, for the children who have lost a parent or a grandparent, the bereaved siblings, the broken friendships,” Macron said on Twitter.
“We will not forget a face, a name,” he added.
Lionel Petitpas, president of the group Victims of Covid-19, said the number was “an important threshold”.
After months of people getting accustomed to the virus, the figure “is piercing a lot of minds. It is a figure we thought would never be reached,” he told AP.
Petitpas, who lost his wife Joelle on March 29 last year from the virus, said families of victims "want the government to make a collective gesture to recognise our collective loss”.
France is the third country in Europe to record more than 100,000 deaths, after the United Kingdom and Italy.
The United States is the worst-hit country in terms of coronavirus deaths, at 564,000, followed by Brazil, Mexico and India. Worldwide, the death toll stands at over three million.
France's fatality rate from the disease has now nearly doubled from just over 52,000 at the end of its second lockdown at the end of November.
In the past 30 days, France has registered on average just over 300 new Covid-19 deaths per day, or 9,000 per month, compared to nearly 16,000 per month during the second lockdown.
Health ministry data also showed that 5,924 people were in intensive care units on Thursday, up from 5,902 a day earlier.
France plunged into a third, partial lockdown at the beginning of April, as new infections were surging and hospitals getting close to saturation.
An overnight nationwide curfew has been in place since mid-December, and all France’s restaurants, bars, gyms, cinemas and museums have been closed since October.
Schools are set to gradually reopen starting April 26. The government is anticipating that other restrictions will start being lifted around mid-May.
The authorities expect that 20 million people, about 38 percent of France's adult population, will have received at least one vaccine shot by that time – up from 11 million now.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)