Confirmed coronavirus infections in France surpass two million

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Nice during the second national lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19 infection

PARIS (Reuters) - France's cumulative number of COVID-19 cases now exceeds two million but efforts to rein in the pandemic are starting to bear fruit, its top health official said on Tuesday.

Authorities have reported a total of 2,036,755 confirmed coronavirus infections, with the number of deaths in hospitals and nursing homes now at 46,273, including 437 over the past 24 hours, Director General of Health Jerome Salomon said.

"Our collective efforts are starting to bear fruit, the number of new cases has been going down over a few days...We must double down our efforts to regain control of the epidemic," Salomon told a news conference.

"Respecting the curfew and the lockdown explains this positive trend. We must maintain a very high level of vigilance to be able to go through the end-of-the-year festivities and the winter months safely," he added.

Health Minister Olivier Veran said earlier in the day that the country was starting to curb the spread of the coronavirus but was not ready to ease its second national lockdown.

After curfew measures imposed in major French cities in mid-October failed to yield the results the government hoped for, it imposed a one-month lockdown on Oct. 30 though less strict than the one that ran from March 17 to May 11.

President Emmanuel Macron will speak towards the middle of next week about conditions for a progressive easing of the lockdown, BFM TV said on Tuesday, citing sources.

France has recorded the fourth highest number of coronavirus infections globally, and is seventh in the number of deaths.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon Editing by Franklin Paul/Mark Heinrich)