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Sylvie Corbet and Angela Charlton write for Associated Press this morning that France’s coronavirus death toll is expected to pass 100,000 today after a year of hospital tensions, on-and-off lockdowns and personal loss that have left families nationwide grieving the pandemic’s unending, devastating toll.

According to the Johns Hopkins University figures, the country has seen 5.2m cases and 99,936 deaths during the pandemic. The country of 67 million will be the eighth in the world to reach the symbolic six figure mark, and the third in Europe after the United Kingdom and Italy.

Experts say the 100,000 mark is likely an under-estimate, by at least several thousands. Analysis of death certificates shows that some Covid-19 cases are not reported when people die at home or in places like psychiatric units and chronic care facilities, they stress.

Lionel Petitpas, the president of the association Victims of Covid-19, told the Associated Press that the number of 100,000 deaths is “an important threshold.”

After months of people getting accustomed to the virus, the figure “is piercing a lot of minds. It is a figure we thought would never be reached,” he said. Petitpas, who lost his wife Joelle on 29 March last year from the virus, said families of victims “want the government to make a collective gesture to recognize our collective loss.”

Petitpas started a Facebook group last year for families of victims to share memories of their loved ones. Nearly every day, new testimonies appear.

“My wife, like so many others, was just put in a body bag,” he recalled. “It was like a luxury garbage bag. And then she was put in a coffin and sent to cremation.” He was not allowed to see her.

Petitpas said that despite a decree in January allowing people to see their deceased loved ones, many places still aren’t allowing it. “All these people who left us (are) like people with the plague, without human dignity, with nothing at all,” he deplored.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, told Le Parisien newspaper he thinks about all of the people who died in the pandemic and their families.

The pandemic was “so cruel” to individuals “who sometimes were not able to accompany, during the last moments and in death, a father, a mother, a loved one, a friend,” Macron said. Yet the crisis also shows “the ability of the French people to get united”, he added.

The French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal suggested it is too soon to set a specific date to honour those who died as the country is now fighting another rapid rise in confirmed cases.

“There will be an homage for sure, a national mourning for the victims of Covid-19,” Attal said Wednesday. “That time will come. Today, we throw all our forces in the battle against the epidemic.”

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