New coronavirus cases drop sharply in France's second week of lockdown

A doctor at Strasbourg's university hospital is seen taking a break to wash her hands while attending a training for new staff to reinforce ICU regular crews who face a second wave of patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Strasbourg, France, November 13, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

PARIS (Reuters) - New coronavirus infections and hospital admissions for COVID-19 dropped sharply at the end of the second week of a new nationwide confinement in France, health ministry data showed on Friday.

The ministry reported 23,794 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from 33,172 on Thursday and compared to 60,486 last Friday.

The number of people going into hospital with the virus plunged to 24 from 737 on Thursday and the number of people going into intensive care dropped to just four from 96 on Thursday and more than 100 per day every weekday last week.

The number of coronavirus deaths in hospitals increased slightly to 456 from 425 on Thursday. France also reported 476 deaths in retirement homes over the past three days, for a total of 932 deaths reported on Friday.

The seven-day moving average of the death toll, which smoothes out irregularities in data reporting, increased by 15 to 575, a level last seen at the end of April during the first lockdown.

In July to August, the seven-day average of deaths fell to high single digits or low double digits from mid-July to mid-August.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Chris Reese and Louise Heavens