PARIS (Reuters) – France reported 16,546 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday, down from 21,231 on Saturday and 20,701 on Friday.
The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections rose by 167 to 81,814 – the seventh-highest death toll globally – versus 199 on Saturday.
There have been 9,921 new patients hospitalised with the disease over the past seven days and 1,763 new admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) over the period, the health ministry said.
In contrast with some of its neighbours, France has resisted imposing a new lockdown in the hope that a national evening curfew in place since Dec. 15 will be enough to contain the pandemic.
Some scientists, however, have said that President Emmanuel Macron took a gamble by eschewing a new lockdown despite the threat of more contagious COVID-19 variants.
The health ministry, meanwhile, has asked regional health agencies and hospitals to move into “crisis” mode from Feb. 18 to prepare for a possible surge in coronavirus cases because of the new variants, Le Journal Du Dimanche reported.
The move, which would echo measures taken in March and November last year, when France went into national lockdowns, involves increasing the number of hospital beds available, delaying non-urgent surgery and mobilising all medical staff.
The total cumulative number of cases in France increased to 3,465,163, the sixth-highest in the world.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Alexander Smith and David Goodman)