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World News

French ministry 'worried' as it reports 5,453 new coronavirus cases

PARIS (Reuters) - France reported 5,453 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, and the health ministry described the situation as “worrying” following a spike the previous day when the country registered its highest number of cases since mid-March.

People walk past a placard that reads "mandatory mask in this sector" during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Charleville-Mezieres, France, August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Friday’s “exponential” rise in the number of new cases to 7,379 marked the biggest daily figure reported since France imposed a lockdown at the height of the pandemic.

“In mainland France, the progression of the COVID-19 epidemic is exponential. The strong growth dynamics of transmission is very worrying,” the health ministry said on its website.

The cumulative number of deaths from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, rose to 30,602 from 30,596 on Friday, it said.

The number of people in hospital with the disease fell to 4,530 versus 4,535 the day before, with 400 in intensive care, compared with 387.

Despite the persistently high number of new cases, however, a doctor in Paris said the current situation was different from February and March when the virus spread uncontrollably.

“We have learned from our mistakes,” Karine Lacombe, head of the infectious diseases unit at the Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris, said in an interview on BFM TV.

“We have made a lot of progress in terms of treatment. For example, we know that dexamethasone ... works and has a positive effect on mortality”.

France has made compulsory the wearing of masks in Paris and other cites, as the government seeks to avoid another lockdown that could push the economy into a deeper recession.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire reiterated on Saturday that the government would do its best to “save everyone” and prevent bankruptcies.

A rebound in consumption in May and June gives reasons to be optimistic about the economy, he said in an interview with France Inter radio.

Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Clelia Oziel

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