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© Reuters. Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France
© Reuters. Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France

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PARIS (Reuters) – France’s average daily new COVID-19 infections hit a six-and-a-half week high of 18,270 on Monday, while the number of people being treated in intensive care units for the disease rose above 2,800 for the first time in a month.

The health ministry also said that the number of people to receive coronavirus vaccines since France launched a nationwide campaign on Dec. 26 had reached 479,873 as of Monday, up from 422,127 the previous day.

Unlike Britain or Germany, France’s government has so far stopped short of imposing a third national lockdown. A nationwide curfew was moved earlier, to start at 6 p.m., on Saturday, and authorities say it will remain for at least a fortnight to slow the spread of the disease.

Prime Minister Jean Castex reaffirmed on France 5 television that a new confinement could be imposed if the situation worsened. Recent polls show that French overwhelmingly think such a measure will eventually be needed.

“My only concern is to take the right decisions at the right time … we monitor the pandemic’s evolution on a daily basis,” Castex said.

The French health ministry reported 3,736 new coronavirus infections over the previous 24 hours on Monday, a figure lower than Sunday’s 16,642 but higher than last Monday’s 3,582.

France’s cumulative total of cases is fast approaching 3 million, the sixth-highest in the world.

The number of people hospitalised with the disease went up by 350, to 25,619, the highest since Dec 8, while the number of people being treated in intensive care units increased for a ninth consecutive day.

The COVID-19 death toll rose by 404, at 70,687, the world’s seventh-highest, versus 141 on Sunday, and a seven-day moving average of 375.

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