Coronavirus: France deaths hit 1,100 as another 743 die in Italy

24 March 2020, 10:10 | Updated: 24 March 2020, 22:36

France has become the fifth country to report more than 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths - as another 743 people died from the disease in Italy.

The death toll in France stands at 1,100, compared with 860 deaths yesterday - an increase of 240.

A French public health official also said there are 2,516 people needing life support.

Over the same 24-hour period, Italy registered its second-highest number of deaths in a day as it continues to be gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials said today that 743 people had died after testing positive, bringing the total to 6,820.

Italy has recorded more coronavirus-related deaths than anywhere else in the world.

More than 69,000 people have tested positive in Italy, with 5,249 new cases reported on Tuesday.

:: Listen to Divided States on Apple podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Spreaker

Many of the deaths are in the Lombardy region in the north, with the city of Bergamo the worst-hit.

But for two days running, the percentage increase in the number of cases has stood at around 8% - the lowest rise in percentage terms since the contagion in the country came to light on 21 February.

Meanwhile, India has announced a "total lockdown" of its population of 1.3 billion people to save "every Indian".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the measures would come in from midnight and initially last for three weeks.

In a televised address, he said: "To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes."

He added that if the country failed to manage the next 21 days, it would be set back 21 years.

Indian health officials have so far reported 469 confirmed cases and 10 deaths.

It comes after a spokeswoman for the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the US could soon see a surge akin to those experienced across Europe.

More than 46,000 cases and 530 deaths have been reported in America, with more than 20,000 in New York state alone.

Health officials and leaders also warned the world is now hitting the stage that will determine how badly each nation will be affected by COVID-19.

Countries in Europe and North America are pressing ahead with stay-at-home restrictions which affect 1.5 billion people worldwide.

WHO chiefs say there is still time to slow the spread of the virus.

The head of the organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said we are "not helpless bystanders" and we can still "change the trajectory of this pandemic".

In New York - one of the world's biggest virus hotspots - authorities rushed to set up thousands of hospital beds they will need to protect the city's 8.4 million people.

The city's hospitals are around 10 days from shortages in basic supplies, while governor Andrew Cuomo announced plans to convert a convention centre into a hospital.

"This is going to get much worse before it gets better," he said.

Mr Cuomo also announced two experimental medical interventions in a bid to battle back against the illness before more sophisticated therapies are developed.

Health officials are planning to collect plasma from people who have recovered after contracting coronavirus and inject the antibody-rich fluid into patients still battling COVID-19.

Another therapy involves antibody testing in order to send survivors back to work.

Mr Cuomo said the test "shows promise", but added that it was "only a trial for people who are in a serious condition".

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus deaths in Spain - the second worst-affected country in Europe - rose by 514 to 2,696, with more than 6,000 new cases.

There have now been 39,673 confirmed cases there, up from 33,089 on Monday.

The virus has continued to surge in Spain, forcing a nationwide lockdown that has closed shops and bars and prevented more than 46 million people from leaving their homes.

Funeral homes have been left well over capacity as hospitals struggle to cope.

An ice rink at the Palacio de Hielo shopping mall in Madrid is now being used as a makeshift morgue.

Germany, however, has indicated that its infection curve could have been flattened after it imposed its own social distancing measures.