New French COVID-19 cases tick up again, hospital pressure eases

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PARIS, May 17 (Reuters) - The pressure on French hospitals from the coronavirus epidemic has eased further but two days before France reopens restaurants' outdoor terraces again, the slowdown in the number of new cases seen in the past two weeks came to a halt.

The health ministry reported 3,350 new cases on Monday - when the case count usually drops due to the weekend - an increase of 1.74% compared to last Monday and the same week-on-week as on Sunday, when nearly 14,000 new cases were reported.

In the past five weeks, week-on-week percentage increases have dropped from over six percent mid-April to under two percent last week and an 11-month low of 1.66% on Saturday.

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The French government closely monitors week-on-week changes in the case tally, which feeds through to hospital and death tallies a few weeks later.

The seven-day moving average of new cases increased slightly to 14,394 on Monday, after falling virtualy without interruption from a 2021 high of over 42,000 per day mid-April.

France also reported there were 4,186 people in intensive care units with COVID-19 on Monday, a fall of 69 and the 14th consecutive decline.

Health ministry data also showed that the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 fell again, by 214 to 22,749, after rising on Sunday for the first time in nearly two weeks.

The daily COVID-19 death tally increased by 196 to nearly 108,000, compared to an increase of 292 last Monday. The seven-day moving average of deaths fell to 161 from 222 a week ago and around 300 mid-April.

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Reporting by GV De Clercq; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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