© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: France’s new COVID-19 cases hit seven-week high
PARIS (Reuters) – French Prime Minister Jean Castex told Parliament on Tuesday that France had entered a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as the 7-day average of new cases exceeded for the first time since November 20 25,000 had risen.
French health officials reported 29,975 new cases on Tuesday, a 4.5% increase from last Tuesday’s total and the largest increase from the previous month in a month and a half.
France is grappling with a steady spike in new cases, putting a heavy burden on the country’s hospital system that, according to prominent health experts, can only be spared by a new lockdown.
Like other EU countries, France has lagged far behind the US or the UK when it comes to vaccinating its population.
President Emmanuel Macron still hopes that a vaccination campaign can stave off the effects of a new wave of pandemics triggered by more contagious variants, thus preventing France from resorting to a third national lockdown.
However, discontinuing use of the vaccine AstraZeneca (NASDAQ :), announced Monday due to safety concerns, could jeopardize the government’s strategy.
The Department of Health said there were 4,239 patients in intensive care units for COVID-19, which rose by 20 in 24 hours, hitting a nearly four-month high. The total number of people hospitalized for the illness rose 23 to 25,492, a high since Feb. 24.
The number of those who died rose by 408 to 91,170, the seventh highest death toll in the world. The seven-day moving average of deaths is 267.
With 4.11 million people infected since the outbreak began, France has the sixth highest number of cases in the world.
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