PARIS (Reuters) – France saw a decline in the number of COVID patients in intensive care units on Wednesday, and the daily death toll fell, but the number of new infections continued to grow.
Health ministry data showed ICU numbers dropped by 50 to 5,902, the first fall in nearly a week.
Intensive care numbers – which are the best measure of a health system’s ability to deal with the crisis – have been rising steadily from less than 3,000 at the start of the year.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said earlier on Wednesday that peak hospitalisation levels have not yet been reached and that difficult times are still ahead.
During the first lockdown in spring 2020, ICU numbers peaked at over 7,000.
The health ministry reported 297 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals on Wednesday, compared with 324 on Tuesday and 385 the day before.
The total number of deaths since the start of the epidemic now stands at 99,777 and if current trends continue, France’s COVID-19 death toll will exceed 100,000 on Thursday.
France also reported 43,505 new confirmed cases, taking the total to about 5.15 million, with the seven-day moving average of cases rising above 40,000 for the first time this year.
Attal said coronavirus was still circulating actively in the country, with signs of improvement in some parts of southern France but a worsening situation in other parts, such as Auvergne-Rhone Alpes.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by GV De Clercq and Mike Harrison)