By Cindi Cook
PARIS (AA) - The new coronavirus killed an additional 499 people in France on Tuesday as it continues to take a devastating toll on the country, said the health authorities.
The death toll surged to 3,523 and a total of 52,128 cases of infection were recorded, according to the Health Ministry.
The French National Assembly observed a moment of silence midday for all those who perished in the pandemic.
In the morning hours, President Emmanuel Macron visited a factory producing medical masks to both show support and announce an additional €4 billion ($4.4 billion) to fund the production of masks, respirators, and supplies.
The production of masks will reach 15 million per week by end of April, Macron promised.
The factory Macron visited, PME Kolmi-Hopen, is the largest of four companies in France producing surgical and filtering face masks. They are operating round-the-clock to meet the demand.
An Air France cargo plane also landed at Paris-Vatry Airport on Tuesday carrying 10 million masks purchased from China for nationwide use. Additional medical supplies were also on board.
After first appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the virus has spread to at least 179 countries and regions, according to the U.S-based Johns Hopkins University database.
More than 826,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide, with the death toll over 40,700 and over 174,000 recoveries.
Despite the severity of the virus, most people experience mild symptoms and recover in due time.