PARIS (Reuters) – The number of French people in hospital for COVID-19 rose for a sixteenth straight day on Monday to a seven-week high of almost 5,500, a trend that has led three of the country’s biggest cities to impose stricter rules on gatherings.
French health authorities reported 6,158 new infections over the past 24 hours, sharply down from Saturday’s record high of 10,561 and Sunday’s tally of 7,183. The Monday figure always tends to dip however as there are fewer tests conducted on Sundays.
The seven-day moving average of new infections, which smoothes out reporting irregularities, stood at 8,324, a record for a 28th day in a row, versus a low of 272 on May 27, two weeks after the country ended its two-month long lockdown.
The cumulative number of cases now totals 387,252.
The hospitalisations figure shot up by 251 on Monday, the largest daily increase since April 14, while the number of people in intensive care units passed the 700 threshold for the first time since June 22 to stand at 712.
That is still 10 times lower than the 7,148 peak reached on April 8, but the upward trend is putting a renewed strain on the hospital system in certain parts of the country, such as Marseille.
France’s second largest city has extended a mandatory order to wear masks in public spaces indoors and outside in the 26 districts surrounding it, ban single groups of more than 10 people sunbathing on beaches and parks, and suspend school trips and student parties.
Other areas of France, such as the southwestern town of Bordeaux, the country’s ninth-largest city, and the area around Lille, close to the Belgian border, have announced similar measures.
The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections rose by 34 to 30,950. That figure is higher than the seven-day moving average of 32, which itself is at its highest since the beginning of the month.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Jan Harvey)