France's COVID-19 cases top four million

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Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France

PARIS (Reuters) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in France rose above four million on Friday, as the health ministry reported 25,229 new infections.

Friday's increase was lower than the 23,507 new cases reported last Friday, and took the total number of confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic to 4.01 million.

France has the world's sixth-highest total of COVID-19 cases, just behind Britain, which has had more than 4.24 million infections.

The number of people with COVID-19 in intensive care units (ICU) in France increased by 41 to 4,033 on Friday, exceeding 4,000 for the first time since Nov. 26, at the end of the second nationwide lockdown.

The health ministry website also reported 64,809 deaths in hospitals, up 223 over 24 hours, pushing the total number of deaths since the start of the pandemic - including retirement home deaths - to at least 90,095.

The ministry did not release retirement home data on Friday. It usually releases retirement home deaths for three days on Fridays.

(Reporting by GV De Clercq. Editing by Susan Fenton and Mark Potter)