French coronavirus patients in intensive care highest since end of November

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The number of people in intensive care in France who have COVID-19 is at the highest level since the end of November, health officials said on Tuesday as new infections rose slightly to 23,302 from 22,857 a week ago.

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The new cases pushed the cumulative total since the start of the pandemic a year ago to 3.93 million, the health ministry reported, and the seven-day moving average of new cases was virtually steady at 21,333.

While France has been registering over 20,000 new cases per day since late January, week-on-week increases have slowed from nearly five percent in mid-January, when a tighter curfew at 6 p.m. was imposed, to less than four percent over the past five days.

But despite a vaccination campaign focused on the oldest and most vulnerable people, those in intensive care with COVID-19 has risen steadily from less than 3,000 people at the end of January to nearly 4,000 on Tuesday.

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units was up by 69 to 3,918 people, the most since the of November, in the last days of the second month-long lockdown. That month, ICU numbers peaked at just under 5,000.

In the Paris region alone, almost 1,000 people are in ICU with COVID-19, but the government is not planning to put the Ile-de-France region around the capital into lockdown, France’s public health chief said.

He said lockdown would be a last-resort measure imposed only if the hospital system could no longer cope.

The health ministry also reported on Tuesday that 4.15 million people, or 7.9 percent of the adult population, had received a first coronavirus vaccine and 2.04 million had also received a second shot, for a total of nearly 6.2 million injections.

The government aims to vaccinate 10 million people by mid-April, 20 million by mid-May and 30 million by summer.

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