PARIS (Reuters) - France recorded 18,254 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, health director Jerome Salomon said on Thursday, a tally not seen since Nov. 20 as infections showed an upward trend again.
He spoke at a news conference hours after Emmanuel Macron's office announced the French president had tested positive, prompting a track-and-trace effort across Europe following numerous meetings between Macron and EU leaders.
Salomon, who spoke of a "worrying development of the pandemic" a week before Christmas, said the reproduction rate of the disease had gone above 1 again, at 1.03. A level below 1 is needed to gradually contain the disease.
With more than 2.42 million cases, France is the fifth-worst infected country in the world.
After peaking at almost 87,000 on Nov. 7, the daily number of new cases had dramatically decreased in subsequent weeks, mainly thanks to a second national lockdown from Oct. 30 to Dec. 15.
But cases failed to fall below the 5,000 target set by the government, and so it replaced the lockdown with stricter measures than initially planned. The seven-day moving average of new cases, at 12,764, stands at a 20-day high.
The death toll was up by 258, at 59,619, the seventh-highest in the world, versus 289 on Wednesday and a seven-day moving average of 383.
(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Giles Elgood)