The coronavirus appears to be receding in France, one of the world's hardest-hit countries.
National Health agency chief Jerome Salomon said Thursday that the virus epidemic looks to have reached a ``long plateau'' that is ``evolving slowly downward,'' instead of hitting a peak followed by a sharp drop.
Two weeks ago, France saw a 58% weekly jump in deaths nationwide as COVID-19 claimed more and more lives.
Salomon said it was unclear how much of the ``excess mortality'' reported from March 30-April 5 in comparison to previous years was linked to the virus.
But the rise corresponded with an increase in deaths attributed to the virus in hospitals and care homes, which is now at 17,920. France has not been counting people who die with the virus at home.
More than 6,000 people are still in intensive care but the number has dropped every day for a week, and the number of people hospitalized fell Thursday for a second day.