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France passes 60,000 COVID-19 deaths as 2020 becomes its deadliest year

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By Euronews  with AFP
Christmas lighting where the Christmas market usually takes place in Strasbourg, but has been cancelled due to coronavirus
Christmas lighting where the Christmas market usually takes place in Strasbourg, but has been cancelled due to coronavirus   -   Copyright  AP Photo

France has now recorded more than 60,000 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic, with 2020 now the country’s deadliest year post-war.

Figures published by Public Health France on Friday showed the country has now officially recorded 60,229 deaths, with health authorities worried about a resumption of the epidemic right before the end of year festivities.

The country also surpassed its record number of deaths for a calendar year on December 7, France's national statistics institute said on Friday. Unsurprisingly, it linked the excess deaths to the coronavirus pandemic.

The previous record, set in 2019, was 613,243, a result of a growing and ageing population.

But that was surpassed on December 7, with 617,197 deaths recorded between then and the start of the year, the INSEE website showed.

As of December 7, 46,703 more deaths had been recorded than on the same date last year, with coronavirus pinpointed as a reason for much of the excess mortality.

France has had more than 2.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of the outbreak in March.

Older people have unsurprisingly been the biggest victims of the excess deaths, with excess deaths since September of around 20% for those over 85, 18% for those aged 75-84 and 14% for those aged 65-74, while deaths among young people under 25 are down 9% on last year.

France currently has the fifth-highest total of coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, the most in western Europe, while it is only behind Italy and the UK for deaths.

The president, Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, has developed a cough, fever and fatigue, according to officials, a day after he tested positive for the virus.

His contact cases, including prime minister Jean Castex, have started self-isolation.