PARIS (Reuters) - France reported 1,346 new coronavirus infections on Friday, taking the total to 187,919 as the daily tally of new cases remained above 1,300 for the third day running, a level last seen during lockdown.
At the end of the first month of school holidays, with millions of French people traveling and mingling with friends and family not seen for weeks, the infection rate has risen back to a level last reported in late April, when the epidemic was in full swing and a strict lockdown was in place.
Comparisons can be difficult, as the health ministry does not publish data every day and it sometimes adds batches of historical data to single-day figures. But the seven-day moving average (7DMA), which smoothes out such irregularities, is now above 1,000 for the second day in a row.
Except for early May, when the 7DMA was above 1,000 for a week due to a data revision, the 7DMA was above 1,000 from March 19 to May 1, with a peak of 4,5537 on April 1.
On Friday, the government gave local authorities the power to order the wearing of face masks in outdoor public spaces as the country fights a resurgence of COVID-19.
But while new infections are now back to lockdown and pre-lockdown levels, fewer people are dying or falling seriously ill compared to a few months ago.
The health ministry said on Friday the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 fell by 77 to 5,298, continuing an uninterrupted fall from a peak of 32,292 on April 14.
The number of patients in intensive care also continued to fall, down by 10 to 371 and compared to a high of 7,148 on April 8.
In the past 24 hours, 11 people died from the virus, taking the total to 30,265.
In April, France had several days with more than 1,000 virus deaths, with a peak of 1,438 on April 15.
Reporting by Geert De Clercq, Editing by Franklin Paul, Kirsten Donovan