PARIS (Reuters) – The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care in French hospitals reached 3,363 on Monday, the highest in more than two months, while hospitalisation figures as a whole rose for the second day running.
Unlike some of its neighbours, France has refrained from imposing a third national lockdown, hoping that a curfew in place since Dec. 15 and a vaccination programme that has now given shots to more than 2 million people will be enough to rein in the spread of the disease.
But health officials have continued warnings about the strain being placed on the hospital system and the impact of more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
The local authority for the city of Eaubonne, north of Paris, said earlier in the day that cases of the South African variant of the virus had been detected and that it was starting a track-and-trace campaign.
French health authorities reported 4,317 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, down from 19,715 on Sunday and 4,347 last Monday.
The seven-day moving average, which evens out daily reporting irregularities, stood at 19,986, a little down versus Sunday, but four times higher than the 5,000 target on average set by the government in December.
Along with that target, never reached, was the goal of bringing the number of people in Intensive care units (ICUs) back into a 2,500-3,000 range. That figure went as low as 2,582 on Jan. 7 but is now at the highest since Dec. 3.
The number of people in hospital with the virus went up by 343, to 28,037, and the number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections rose by to 458, at 79,423 – the seventh-highest death toll globally – versus 171 on Sunday and a seven-day moving average of 416.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Chris Reese and Alex Richardson)