France reports nearly 23,000 COVID-19 cases in one day

PARIS, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- With 22,848 infections confirmed in the last 24 hours, France's total coronavirus cases now stand at 2,987,965, official data showed on Thursday.

The data posted on the government's website showed that the coronavirus caused 346 fatalities over the past day, bringing the death toll to 71,998.

A total of 25,735 people with COVID-19 remained hospitalized, up by 49 from the previous day, while 2,876 patients were in intensive care, 24 higher than Wednesday's figure.

Speaking to TF1 television on Thursday evening, Health Minster Olivier Veran stressed that the government was in "a race against time to curb the virus spread" after a new strain first detected in Britain forced many European countries into lockdown.

"The virus variant is much more contagious. We are doing everything to limit the variant from circulating over the territory," Veran said, adding that stricter measures would be implemented if the variant circulates further.

Since Dec. 27, when France launched its vaccination campaign, 823,567 people have received their first dose, with 130,790 having the jabs on Thursday. That represents 1.23 percent of the country's total population.

Up to 1.4 million vulnerable people and frontline workers would be vaccinated by the end of January, nearly half of the 67 million inhabitants would get inoculated by the end of May, and the total population by late August, said Veran.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in France and other countries with the already-authorized COVID-19 vaccines.

Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 64 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 15.

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