France registered 24 new deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, bringing the country’s toll to 29,398, according to fresh figures released by the National Public Health Agency, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
The latest single-day deaths were fewer than the 28 fatalities recorded a day before. Saturday also saw 526 new cases of infection, down from Friday’s 726, taking the tally to 156,813.
Meanwhile, hospital admissions continued to decline. Some 10,909 people remain hospitalized for coronavirus infection, compared with 11,124 recorded on Friday. Patients who needed to be put on ventilator dropped by 8 to 871.
In a further move to return to normalcy, France will lift on June 15 all traffic restrictions at its European internal borders following a favorable development of the health situation in the country and Europe, said Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.
By way of reciprocity, travelers arriving from Spain and Britain would have to observe a 14-day quarantine period on arrival in France.
Visitors from countries outside the Schengen area would be able to enter the French territory without restrictions from July 1.
“This opening will be gradual and will vary according to the health situation in each of the third countries, and in accordance with the arrangements that will have been agreed at European level by then,” the ministers said in a statement.
Early on Saturday, Health Minister Olivier Veran announced that Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance (IVA) spearheaded by France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands had signed an accord with British drugmaker AstraZeneca to provide the region with 400 million doses of anti-COVID-19 vaccine once the vaccine is approved.
First deliveries are planned by the end of this year, according to the minister.
The drugmaker would produce 2 billion doses of the vaccine to make it available over the globe for no profit during the pandemic, he added.
“This agreement allows us to secure a potential vaccine as a first guarantee in the context of strong international competition. We will need to continue these negotiations with our partners to reduce the risk of dependence on a single project,” Veran said.
He noted that the Alliance would continue with other pharmaceutical companies to increase the chances of accessing a vaccine “quickly enough and at the best cost.”