PARIS (Reuters) - France registered more than 20,000 new confirmed coronavirus infections on Wednesday for the first time since Aug. 25 as the fifth wave of the epidemic picked up speed.
The health ministry reported 20,294 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total to 7.33 million and the seven-day moving average of new cases to above 12,400.
France's COVID-19 incidence rate - the number of new cases per week per 100,000 people - rose further to 129, although that remained well below neighbouring countries such as Germany, Britain and Belgium where such rates are several times higher.
The number of coronavirus patients in French hospitals rose by more than 10% week-on-week for the second day in a row, to 7,663 and the number of patients in ICU rose to 1,300, the third day of double-digit week-on-week increases.
France also reported 56 new COVID-19 deaths, taking the total to more than 118,000.
Government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said earlier on Wednesday that France is being hit by a fifth wave of infections but added that no extra restrictive measures are on the agenda for now. The government hopes that a high vaccination rate will limit the number of people needing hospital care for the disease.
However, the French government's top scientific adviser Jean-Francois Delfraissy also said on Wednesday that authorities may have to ask companies once again to make greater use of home-working.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Geert De Clercq; Editing by Chris Reese, Kirsten Donovan)