France's COVID-19 infections down again but hospitalisations still high

FILE PHOTO: Devotees attend Sunday mass at the Saint-Sulpice Church under strict sanitary rules, after one month interruption due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Paris, France, November 29, 2020. The placard reads: "Celebration space limited to 30 people". REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

PARIS (Reuters) - France's recorded 4,005 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, the smallest rise since August, but a down trend in hospitalisations has slowed, suggesting the country is not out of the woods.

President Emmanuel Macron said last week that a lockdown could be lifted on Dec. 15 if by then the number of new infections per day fell to 5,000 and the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care declined to between 2,500 and 3,000.

The second national lockdown since Oct 30 was loosened at the weekend with the reopening of all shops.

The number of new infections reported tends to drop on Mondays because fewer tests are conducted on Sundays. The seven-day moving average of daily new infections, which smoothes data-reporting irregularities, stood at 11,118, an almost two-month low.

The cumulative number of cases now totals more than 2.2 million, the fifth-highest tally in the world. November set a new record for monthly new infections in France, at 854,863 versus 804,090 in October.

The number of patients in ICUs only fell by five to 3,751 after a decrease of 22 on Sunday. But ICU numbers declined by 677 over the five preceding days.

Hospitalisations for the disease declined by 55 on Monday to 28,258, after increasing by 145 on Sunday and falling by a daily average of 473 between Tuesday and Saturday.

The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 rose by 406 to 52,731, the seventh-highest in the world, versus 198 on Sunday. The seven-day moving average, at 500, has now declined for the 10th day in a row.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Franklin Paul and Cynthia Osterman)

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