May 21, 2020 / 5:20 PM / 4 days ago

France's coronavirus death rate, new cases slow

FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks walk at Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower, as France began a gradual end to a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Paris, France, May 16, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - The growth rate of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in France slowed slightly on Thursday, with health authorities reporting an additional 318 known infections, an increase of 0.2% over 24 hours.

The rate of increases in reported deaths also slowed a little, with 83 COVID-19 fatalities in the past day, bringing the total to 28,215. That represented a rise of 0.3%.

The number of new cases and deaths increased by 0.3% and 0.4% respectively on Wednesday.

Thursday is a public holiday in France. Nursing homes in particular can be slower to report fatalities and cases on weekends and national holidays.

In the last two weeks of the lockdown, the daily rise in the number of confirmed cases was on average 0.8%.

The indicator is being closely watched by the government to ensure the gradual relaxation of lockdown measures does not trigger a feared second wave of the disease.

Genevieve Chene, head of health authority Sante Publique France (SPF), this week said there were no signs the pandemic was picking up, despite some new infection clusters, after France began emerging cautiously from lockdown on May 11.

But she said another week would be needed for a more complete picture of the impact of easing restrictions.

The number of COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care units fell to 1,745 from 1,794 a day earlier, Thursday’s numbers showed. In total, 17,583 people were hospitalised with COVID-19, a decrease of 358 over the past 24 hours.

Reporting by Richard Lough; Editing by Chris Reese and Jan Harvey

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