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France had 23,292 new COVID-19 cases and 649 more deaths in last 24 hours

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing centre in Nantes

PARIS (Reuters) – France registered a further 23,292 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 649 more deaths from the virus in the last 24 hours as President Emmanuel Macron’s government fought against the possibility of a third national lockdown.

Health ministry data published on Friday showed that France’s overall COVID-19 death toll stood at 72,647 – the seventh biggest in the world. The number of confirmed COVID cases stood at just over 3 million.

Pressure is also building on France’s hospital system, with 2,912 COVID-19 patients currently in intensive care units, although France is stepping up its COVID-19 vaccination programme.

For now, France has avoided the worse levels of COVID-19 deaths and cases experienced over the last month in the likes of the United Kingdom and Germany, which have forced those two countries into new national lockdowns.

By comparison, the United Kingdom recorded a further 1,401 deaths on Friday from COVID-19, while Germany reported death toll rose by 859.

Instead of a national lockdown, France has opted for a national 6pm to 6am curfew. Furthermore, unlike several other countries in Europe, many French schools, offices, department stores and hairdressers remain open.

Nevertheless, the French government has not excluded a third national lockdown if the COVID-19 situation worsens.

The health ministry said on Friday a total of 963,139 people had received the COVID-19 vaccine in France. The government wants more than 1 million people to have had the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Chris Reese and Angus MacSwan)

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