PARIS (Reuters) – France reported 25,387 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, up from 19,348 on Tuesday but slightly lower than last Wednesday’s 26,362 as average daily increases continued slowing.
The health ministry also reported 296 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals, from 436 on Tuesday, bringing the cumulative death toll to 80,443. Total cases now stand at 3.38 million.
The closely watched tally of daily new cases has been falling gradually and the seven-day moving average of new cases fell by another 139 to 19,209, with the average now below 20,000 for the fifth day in a row after remaining above 20,000 for two weeks end January-early February.
Compared to a week ago, the number of new cases increased by 4.14 %, a measure that has been steadily falling since reaching a 2021 high of 4.91 % on Jan. 25.
During the height of the second wave of the epidemic from mid-October to mid-November, week-on-week increases were over 20 % for a month with peaks at 28 to 29 %. They fell to as low a 3.3 % early December, following the November lockdown.
The French government has repeatedly said in recent weeks that the relatively slow progression of the virus means that a third lockdown is not necessary for now.
“There are good signs and bad signs, but for now there is no need for a new lockdown,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Wednesday.
In a further good sign, hospital numbers fell for the second day in a row, with 27,461 people in hospital with the disease, down by 216. The number of people in intensive care with COVID-19 fell by 23 to 3,319.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Chris Reese and Alistair Bell)