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New COVID-19 infections in France slow down further

2 minute read

A healthcare worker adjusts medical equipment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Centre Cardiologique du Nord private hospital in Saint-Denis, near Paris, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in France, May 4, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS, May 4 (Reuters) - The number of daily new COVID-19 infections in France slowed again on Tuesday, continuing a three-week trend, with the week-on-week increase in cases below 3% for the third day in a row.

The health ministry reported 24,371 new cases, taking the total to 5.68 million, an increase of 2.64% from last Tuesday and down from week-on-week increases of more than 6% before and during the third lockdown in April.

After the first strict lockdown in spring 2020, week-on-week increases fell below 2% in June and remained below 3% until the end of July.

But after the less strict second lockdown in November, the rate has stubbornly remained above 3% and new cases spiked, forcing President Emmanuel Macron to impose a third lockdown in April, this time including a three-week closure of the schools.

The government is now gradually unwinding lockdown and curfew measures by end June, hoping that a stepped-up vaccination drive and continued social distancing will bring the epidemic under control.

The seven-day moving average of new infections is now down to 20,866, less than half the more than 42,000 seen mid-April.

"20,000 is still a high level, but what matters is the momentum," Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Tuesday.

The number of people in hospitals with COVID-19 also fell again after two days of increases and was down by 523 to 28,427, health ministry data showed. The number of people in intensive care units with COVID-19 fell by 126 to 5,504 but remains close to a recent high over 6,000.

France also reported 257 new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, including 243 in hospitals - down from 311 on the previous day.

Following the vaccination of nearly 100% of care home residents, the weekly average of deaths there has dropped to six, from more than 100 around Christmas, when the vaccination campaign started.

Reporting by GV De Clercq Editing by Gareth Jones

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