PARIS (Reuters) – 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.
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 % 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.
(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; editing by Grant McCool)