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World News

French COVID-19 cases jump to new daily record above 13,000

A doctor talks with medical staff wearing protective suits and face masks, at the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Unit of the military hospital Laveran in Marseille, France, September 18, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

PARIS (Reuters) - France reported 13,215 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the epidemic, while the daily death toll jumped to a four-month high.

The new cases pushed the cumulative total to 428,696 as the seven-day moving average of daily new infections rose to more than 9,300, compared to a low of 272 at the end of May, two weeks after lockdown was lifted.

Epidemiologists blame the increase on a combination of faster circulation of the virus and a six-fold increase in testing since the government made it free.

The health ministry also reported that the total number of deaths from COVID-19 increased by 154 to 31,249, a four-month high and triple the levels of the past week.

Earlier, the ministry reported the toll increased by 123, but then updated that to 154.

As the infection rate increases daily, the most affected regions and cities in France have tightened regulations.

The city of Nice on the French Riviera will ban gatherings of more than 10 people in public spaces and force bars to close early after Marseille and Bordeaux introduced similar measures on Monday.

Paris, where the virus has also been circulating more quickly than elsewhere, has not banned gatherings of more than 10 people but the police prefecture said on Friday that it strongly advised against private gatherings of more than that number.

Hospital data were relatively stable on Friday, with the total number of people in hospital with COVID-19 down by 25 to 5,819 and the number of people in intensive care up by 27 to 800.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq, Editing by Philippa Fletcher and Kirsten Donovan

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