Minister: 1,500 deaths caused by summer heatwaves

Death toll much lower than in the deadly heatwave of summer 2003

The two record-breaking heatwaves that hit France in the summer of 2019 led to the deaths of nearly 1,500 people, the Health Minister has said.

The Ministry of Health recorded 1,435 more deaths than normal for the time of year - with 567 additional fatalities in the first heatwave at the end of June, and 868 during the summer's second hot spell at the end of July.

Minister Agnès Buzyn said that half of those who additional deaths this summer were among those over 75 years of age. She said 10 people died while working outside in dangerously hot conditions.

She praised nurses and home care workers who looked after the elderly in their homes, and the local authorities that worked to contact isolated people - but warned that more needs to be done to cope with the increasing likelihood of longer and more intense hot periods in future.

In total, France endured 18 days of intense heat in two spells this summer.

During the deadly 2003 heatwave, which lasted 20 days, a total 15,000 additional deaths were recorded. The shocking death toll prompted an annual 'day of solidarity', in which thousands of workers in companies across the country give up a day's pay to help the elderly and vulnerable.

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