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France's COVID-19 hospitalisations inch up before end of lockdown

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker holds test tubes for nasal swab at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing centre in Nantes, France, December 10, 2020. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

PARIS (Reuters) -The number of people hospitalised for COVID-19 rose in France for the third day running on Monday, a worrying trend with the country set to replace a second national lockdown with a more lenient 8 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew.

The three-day steady rise in hospitalisations is also a sequence not seen since mid-November.

Patients in intensive care - the most important measure of a health system’s ability to deal with the pandemic - went up by 35 to 2,906, increasing for the second straight day after a continuous decline since Nov. 17.

That figure is still within the target level of 2,500 to 3,000 the government had set to decide the end of the lockdown that was put in place on Oct. 30 and is to be lifted on Tuesday.

But because the number of daily new infections has failed to fall below the 5,000 threshold - another official target - the government has opted for a less extensive loosening of restrictive measures than initially planned.

People won’t have to show proof they can be outside of their homes when the curfew is not enforced but cinemas, theaters will not reopen on Tuesday as was flagged by authorities when they detailed their unwinding of lockdown plan last month.

Health authorities reported 3,063 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, sharply down from Sunday’s 11,533, but case numbers generally dip on Mondays as there are fewer tests conducted on Sundays.

The seven-day moving average of new infections, averaging out weekly data reporting irregularities, stood at 12,001, declining for the first time in 10 days, but still higher than the 10,348 low hit 10 days ago.

The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections rose by 371 to 58,282, up from 150 on Sunday. The cumulative number of cases in France now totals 2,379,915, the fifth highest in the world.

Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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