The French Health Ministry reported 3 304 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, well below daily highs seen last week, though greater numbers of young adults are testing positive, many without showing symptoms.
The number of new infections was above the 1 995 reported on Monday – a day that traditionally shows a dip, but remained well below Sunday’s new post-lockdown record of 4 897 and below levels above 3 600 reported in the second half of last week.
The cumulative total rose to 248 158, along with 30 544 deaths, including 16 in the past 24 hours, while the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 fell by 90 to a new post-lockdown low of 4 600.
The tally of people in intensive care rose by 11 to 410 and is now back up to levels last seen at the end of July, but remains far below the high of more than 7 000 in early April.
Epidemiologists say the relatively limited pressure on hospitals is due to the fact that the virus now circulates actively among younger people, who typically show fewer or no symptoms of the respiratory disease.
But increased infections among young adults are beginning to show in hospital statistics, the Health Ministry said in its latest review.
The number of people under 40 hospitalized for COVID-19 has more than doubled to 18% since early July, compared to about 8% from February to July, according to ministry data. About 13% of patients in intensive care were younger than 40, up from 7% in the spring.
Dominique Costagliola, an epidemiologist at the INSERM research institute, said France needed to remain vigilant.
“It is hard to imagine the virus remaining confined among the young….The more it circulates among young people, the bigger the chance it will jump to older people. Once it passes to older people or retirement homes, we could get a snowball effect” she said, alluding to the possibility of more severe infections among older people.