By Cindi Cook
PARIS (AA) - A cargo plane from China landed at Charles de Gaulle Airport late Sunday carrying 100 tons of medical equipment to help France combat the deadly novel coronavirus.
Included were 5.5 million masks which are sorely needed by medical workers throughout the republic.
Some 2.5 million of the masks were ordered in China by LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury goods group, and offered to the French government.
Starting Monday for the next two weeks, a flight will land at Paris-Vatry Airport every day carrying medical supplies. The hub is around 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of the capital and has a cargo area dedicated to freight. Each plane will carry 10 million masks among the 100 tons of medical equipment.
France has ordered more than a billion masks from China.
The latest developments come as 289 patients died from the virus, bringing the country’s death toll to 2,606. The number of reported infections is 40,174.
Some 19,354 patients are hospitalized nationwide, with 4,632 of those in intensive care, up 359 from Saturday, 60 of which are under the age of 30.
One positive statistic cited by Director General of Health Jerome Salomon is that 7,132 patients were able to return home.
Sunday's 10% increase in COVID-19 infections reflects a contamination that occurred before the nationwide two-week lockdown put in place by President Emmanuel Macron on March 17. All establishments throughout France remain shuttered except for grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and medical establishments.
On Saturday evening however, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that the confinement period would be extended until April 15.
National testing will also be rapidly increased in the coming week, from 5,000 to 12,000 tests per day, and will go up from there during April to an estimated 20,000 per day.
The novel coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China in December. There are currently more than 716,000 cases worldwide and nearly 33,600 reported deaths while over 149,000 people have recovered, according to U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the severity of the virus, most people experience mild symptoms and recover in due time.