France has given first COVID shots to nearly all retirement care home residents

FILE PHOTO: Doctor Laure-Anne Bertholon-Marques administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a resident at "Les Figuiers" retirement home (Ehpad - Housing Establishment for Dependant Elderly People) in Villeneuve-Loubet as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in France, January 12, 2021. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

PARIS (Reuters) - France has given a first COVID-19 vaccination injection to virtually 100% of retirement care home residents and three quarters have received two shots, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Friday.

During a visit to a vaccination centre in southern France, Veran also told reporters that more than two thirds of all health staff and 80% of health staff above 50 had received at least a first injection.

France's focus on care home residents has led to a sharp drop in deaths.

At the start of the vaccination campaign in late December-early January, France was registering about 700 deaths per week in retirement homes, accounting for nearly a third of all weekly deaths nationwide.

By early March, that number had dropped to around 300, by end-March to 80 and last week France reported fewer than 50 deaths in retirement homes.

On Thursday, as France's COVID-19 death toll crossed 100,000, the seven-day moving average of COVID-19 deaths stood at nearly 300 per day, with the average of retirement home deaths among those at just seven.

Veran also told reporters that with still some 35,000 new COVID-19 cases per day in France, it was too soon to consider easing restrictions on people's movements and he reiterated that there were no plans for now to lift a curfew that has been in place since mid-December.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq and Matthieu Protard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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