France becomes 7th country with more than 1 million COVID-19 cases

PARIS (Reuters) - The number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections jumped over one million on Friday, making France the seventh country to reach that milestone.

Slideshow ( 2 images )

Over the past 24 hours, France registered a record 42,032 new cases, taking the total to 1,041,075, government data showed.

The United States has 8.4 million cases, followed by India with 7.8 million, Brazil with 5.3 million, Russia with 1.5 million and Argentina and Spain with each just over one million.

On Thursday, the daily case count rose above 40,000 for the first time, after breaking through 20,000 on Oct. 9 and through 10,000 on Sept. 9 as the virus spread rapidly and France started testing more after summer.

During the March-May lockdown, the highest number of infections in one day had been 7,578 on March 31, though doctors say the number was probably much higher as testing then was mainly limited to hospitals and retirement homes.

France also registered 298 new deaths on Friday, taking the total to 34,508.

The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 jumped by 976 to 15,008, the biggest one-day increase since early April. Mid-April 32,300 people were hospitalised with the virus.

The number of people in intensive care units - which is the ultimate test of a health system’s ability to cope with the virus - rose by 122 to 2,441. At the height of the epidemic mid-April, 7,150 people were in ICUs.

President Emmanuel Macron said a curfew taking effect for two thirds of France on Friday night could be tightened further if it shows no results.

“We will have to live with this virus at least till next summer,” he said.

Macron said that as soon as new infections drop back to 3,000-5,000 cases per day, the curfew could be eased. That level was last seen at the end of August.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Dominique Vidalon and Grant McCool