PARIS (Reuters) - The number of new coronavirus infections in France rose by 22,882 to 2.11 million on Friday, slightly higher than the 21,140 reported on Thursday, while hospital numbers eased again.
The health ministry also reported 1,138 new deaths from the virus, of which 381 in hospitals and a multi-day batch of 757 in retirement homes, taking the total to 48,265. On Thursday, it had reported 429 hospital deaths but not retirement home deaths.
The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 dropped by several hundred for the fourth day in a row and was down by 439 to 31,906.
The number of patients in intensive care units also dropped for the fourth consecutive day and was down by 71 to 4,582.
Next week Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron will give a speech to the nation about the virus situation and may announce a partial relaxation of nationwide lockdown rules which have been in place since October 30. The retail industry hopes to be able to reopen shops selling "non-essential" goods such as clothes, shoes and toys.
Last month, Macron said that daily new infections would have to fall to about 5,000 before the lockdown could be eased, but a top government scientific adviser on coronavirus said on Friday this is unlikely to happen before year-end.
(Reporting by GV De Clercq; editing by Diane Craft and Grant McCool)