The number of new confirmed coronavirus cases continues to rise in France, with new daily infections topping 7,000 for the third time since the beginning of the outbreak. But while remaining mostly stable during August, the number of patients hospitalised and taken to intensive care has also begun to increase.
French health authorities reported 7,017 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, marking a big jump up from Tuesday's 4,982 figure.
"The virus keeps spreading," French health authorities said in their daily statement, adding that around a fifth of France's administrative districts (departments) were affected by an "active circulation of the disease".
The seven-day moving average of new infections stood at a record of 5,634 and remained above the 5,000 threshold for the fourth day in a row.
This week three PSG players, including Brazilian star Neymar, tested positive.
The fact the virus is circulating is not new and more cases are now being revealed through France's extensive test and trace programme. Some 900,000 people are being tested each week.
But health authorities are more concerned over the increase in the number of hospitalisations.
Over the last 24 hours, 28 people were hospitalised for Covid-19, the fifth day in a row to register an increase. It brings the total number to 4,632.
Over 440 of those patients are in intensive care; 22 were admitted in the last 24 hours.
While this is far below the 8 April record of 7,148 it again marks a rising trend, and for the sixth consecutive day.
Twenty-six people died of Covid-related causes between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Risk of increase in mortality
Health officials said that hospital admissions had not risen sharply so far, but warned of the case of Marseille where vulnerable victims were being infected by younger people.
Marseille, in the Bouches-du-Rhône department, is currently the worst affected by the epidemic. The infection rate there has risen from 131.4 cases per 100,000 inhabitants to 168.8 over the last week.
The majority of Covid patients are at Marseille city hospital, in the service headed up by Professor Didier Raoult, known for his controversial advocacy of using hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19. He is currently facing an official complaint by the French Medical Council (Ordre des Médécins).
The hospital, which registered 350 cases per day at the height of the epidemic in April, is now registering around 150 cases, Professor Philippe Brouqui told La Provence daily.
“Since June, we have had 2,000 cases,” he said. “In the beginning it was young people and up until a fortnight ago there were very few hospitalisations.
“With the admissions, which are the heavier cases, there is a risk of an increase in mortality.”
He insisted however, that "in Marseille, as elsewhere in France, we are ready”.
Faced with the resurgence of Covid-19 infections, French President Emmanuel Macron recently warned that “if this virus continues to surprise us and our ‘test, trace and isolate’ measures are not enough” another total lockdown could not be ruled out.
The cumulative number of cases in France now totals 293,024. 30,686 people have died.