France hits unwanted milestone: Over 100,000 virus deaths

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FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2020 file photo, a woman walks by empty restaurants in the center of Lyon, central France. France is expected Thursday April 15, 2021, to pass the grim milestone of 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, after a year of hospital tensions, on-and-off lockdowns and personal loss that have left families nationwide grieving the pandemics unending, devastating toll. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani, File)

PARIS – France on Thursday became the third country in Europe after the U.K. and Italy to reach the unwanted milestone of 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths as new infections and deaths surged due to virus variants.

The country of 67 million is the eighth nation in the world to reach the mark after a year of overwhelmed hospitals, on-and-off coronavirus lockdowns and enormous personal losses that have left families nationwide grieving the pandemic’s impact.

The moment prompted a message of solidarity from French President Emmanuel Macron.

“Since the start of the pandemic, 100,000 French women and men have succumbed to the virus. We all have a thought for their families, their loved ones, for the children who have lost a parent or a grandparent, the bereaved siblings, the broken friendships,” Macron said on Twitter. “We will not forget a face, a name,” he added.

France added 300 new deaths Thursday to the previous day’s tally of 99,777, bringing the total to 100,077 deaths.

Lionel Petitpas, president of the group Victims of COVID-19 told The Associated Press that the number was “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 March 29 last year from the virus, said families of victims "want the government to make a collective gesture to recognize our collective loss.”