France reports 41 869 new COVID-19 cases, straining hospital system

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France reported 41 869 new COVID-19 cases on Friday after registering 45 641 on Thursday and 35 088 a week ago, putting the hospital system under severe strain as a third wave of the pandemic rapidly escalates, health ministry data showed.

The number of people in intensive care units with COVID-19 rose by 57 to a 2021 high of 4 766, health ministry data showed.

Three additional French regions including the Rhone department around the city of Lyon will be put under tightened COVID-19 restrictions for four weeks from midnight on Friday, the government announced on Thursday.

The move follows similar measures imposed a week earlier on the Paris region and a large part of northern France, where most non-essential stores have been ordered to close and people are limited in how far they can travel from their homes.

President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday defended his decision to not impose a third lockdown at the end of January, against the advice of many scientists.

But Macron said he was preoccupied with the situation in French hospitals and new restrictions will probably have to be taken in the coming days or weeks.

The COVID-19 death toll rose by 897 to 94 275, the eighth-highest in the world. Total cases, at 4.46 million, is the fifth-highest globally.

As of Friday, 7 519 740 people had received a first dose of vaccine against the coronavirus in France.