New Covid cases in France close to 180k in 24 hours, but ICU numbers still below 2020 peaks

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France reported a record high of 179,807 new confirmed coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period, one of the highest one-day tallies worldwide since the start of the pandemic.

However, despite the jump in new cases, the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 remains moderate. The number of Covid patients in intensive care units (ICU) was around 3,400 on Tuesday evening, well below the highs of more than 7,000 in early April 2020.

According to data on Covidtracker.fr, the figure represents the highest number of new daily infections in Europe.

Since the start of the pandemic, only the United States and India have reported average daily new cases above 200,000.

On Monday, the United States reported more than 505,000 new Covid-19 cases.

Meanwhile, Britain reported a record 129,471 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, but the data did not include figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland due to differences in reporting practices over the Christmas holiday period.

France's previous record of 104,611 was set last Saturday, after the 86,852 high of 11 November 2020, was broken with two consecutive days of more than 90,000 new cases per day at the end of last week.

The seven-day moving average of new cases in France - which smoothes out daily reporting irregularities - rose to a new all-time high of 87,500.

On Sunday and Monday, the health ministry reported only about 30,000 new cases per day.

Vaccination drive has reduced death toll

On Monday, the French government announced new measures to curb infections, including limits on the size of gatherings, a ban on eating and drinking in transport systems and the mandatory wearing of masks again outdoors.

Despite the jump in new cases, the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 remains well below record levels, with Covid patients in intensive care at around 3,400 on Tuesday, well below the highs of more than 7,000 in early April 2020.

France also announced 290 new Covid deaths, taking the death toll to over 123,000.

About 77% of the population is now fully vaccinated, which has sharply reduced the number of hospitalizations and deaths.

The Covid incidence rate - the number of new cases per week per 100,000 citizens - rose to over 900, the highest since the start of the epidemic and nearly twice the levels seen during the third wave in November 2020.

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