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World News

France sets fourth COVID-19 cases record in 8 days, hospitalisations up again

A health worker, wearing a protective suit and a face mask, administers a nasal swab to a patient at a testing site for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Paris, France, September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/Files

PARIS (Reuters) - France set a new record of daily COVID-19 infections on Thursday, the fourth in eight days, while the number of people hospitalised for the disease went above 6,000 for the first time in more than two months.

Those figures are published the day after the government announced extra restrictive measures, mainly in big cities and especially in Marseille, to contain the virus.

On their website, French health authorities reported 16,096 new confirmed coronavirus cases, blowing away the previous record of 13,498 and bringing the cumulative total to 497,237, the second-highest in Western Europe behind Spain.

The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections stood at 31,511, up by 52. That figure is lower than the seven-day moving average of 59 but more than four times higher than the daily average of 12 seen in August.

Health authorities said there were 6,031 patients hospitalised for COVID-19 as of Thursday, a tally still more than five times lower than the 32,292 peak reached on April 14 but up by 33% since an Aug. 29 low of 4,530.

And there are now 1,043 patients in intensive care units, levels unseen since June 8.

It was to avoid the hospital system from being overwhelmed that France put in place one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns between March 17 and May 11.

France’s prime minister warned that if the government does not act to prevent the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, there could be a repeat of the situation at the peak of the crisis in March.

“It’s a race against time,” Jean Castex said on France 2 television. “The public must be attentive and prudent. If we don’t act we could find ourselves in a situation similar to spring,”

Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten and John Irish; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Marguerita Choy

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