May 11, 2020 / 5:38 PM / 25 days ago

France, unwinding lockdown, reports uptick in coronavirus cases

Health workers wear protective face masks as they work at La Roseliere retirement home (EHPAD) in Kunheim, near Colmar, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France, April 21, 2020. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

PARIS (Reuters) - Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in France on Monday were almost four times higher than Sunday and new confirmed cases more than doubled over 24 hours, as the country started unwinding an almost two-month national lockdown put in place to contain the spread of the disease.

These figures are bound to feed fears of a possible second wave of infections as the World Health Organization (WHO) said earlier “extreme vigilance” was needed in countries beginning to exit from lockdowns.

Germany earlier reported an acceleration in new coronavirus infections after it took early steps to ease its lockdown. South Korea, another country that had succeeded in limiting virus infections, has seen a new outbreak in nightclubs.

France’s Health ministry said it registered 263 new deaths from the virus, against 70 Sunday. In percentage points, the 1% rise is the highest in five days. But figures often tend to register a spike after the weekend lull.

The total death toll since the outbreak now stands at 26,643 the ministry said, the fifth highest in the world after those of the United States, Britain, Italy and Spain.

New confirmed cases of the disease were up 456, versus 209 on Sunday, bringing the total to 139,519. With the probable cases in nursing homes stable at 37,904, the total cases tally is up 0.3% at 177,423.

There were 2,712 people in intensive care on Monday, edging down from 2,776 on Sunday, maintaining a long-running decline. Those hospitalized for COVID-19 were down 1.2% at 22,284, a figure down for the 27th day.

Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Chris Reese and Chizu Nomiyama

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