PARIS (Reuters) - New COVID-19 infections in France stayed below 10,000 for the third day in a row on Tuesday, a sequence unseen since mid-September, and the number of people hospitalised for the disease resumed a downward trend.
The government has loosened its second national coronavirus lockdown, put in place on Oct. 30, by allowing all shops to reopen at the weekend.
President Emmanuel Macron said last week the lockdown could be lifted on Dec. 15 if by then the number of new infections per day fell to 5,000 and the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care declined to between 2,500 and 3,000.
Earlier in the day, Macron said that France should be in a position to embark on a broader COVID-19 vaccination campaign between April and June next year, after initially targeting a smaller group of people.
Health authorities reported 8,083 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours on Tuesday, versus 4,005 on Monday and 9,784 on Sunday.
The seven-day moving average of daily new infections fell below 11,000 for the first time since Oct. 2, at 10,965, four times lower than the all-time high of 54,440 reached on Nov. 7.
The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases now totals 2,230,571, the fifth-highest in the world.
After increasing by 90 between Sunday and Monday, the number of people hospitalised for the disease fell by 619 to 27,639, below 28,000 for the first time since Nov. 4.
The number of patients in ICUs declined by 146 to 3,605.
The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections rose by 775 to 53,506, versus a rise of 406 on Monday. But the seven-day moving average of daily additional deaths stood at 467, below 500 for the first time in more than three weeks.
Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Franklin Paul and Nick Macfie
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