PARIS, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Official figures showed on Tuesday that some 19,752 people in France have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in the past 24 hours, sharply higher than Monday's 3,582.
To date, France has registered a total of 2,806,590 cases since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 742 patients in hospitals and nursing homes had succumbed to the disease within a day, bringing the combined death toll to 68,802.
A total of 24,737 patients are receiving treatment in hospitals, representing a one-day fall of 109. Of those hospitalized, 2,688 need life support, up by 12 from Monday's figure.
Addressing the National Assembly's social affairs committee early Tuesday, Health Minister Olivier Veran warned that the rate of infections remained high, with an average of 18,000 cases confirmed per day currently versus 10,000 infections in early December.
"We are in a high plateau which is increasing with territorial disparities," Veran said, describing the vaccination as "a decisive phase" in the fight against the epidemic.
Veran reiterated the government pledge to "amplify, accelerate and simplify" the vaccination campaign. France aims to inoculate one million individuals by the end of January and 14 million others in the second phase starting from February, he said.
Since Dec. 27 when France launched its vaccination campaign, some 189,834 people have gotten their first dose, with 51,483 were inoculated on Tuesday. That represents 0.28 percent of the country's population, far below the rate of 60 percent that experts say is needed to reach the collective immunity.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in France and some other countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, 236 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 63 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by WHO on Jan. 12.