PARIS: The French health ministry reported 2,238 confirmed new coronavirus infections on Tuesday (Aug 18), less than recent daily highs but still at levels last seen during the March-May lockdown imposed to stem the spread of the disease.
On Monday, when the number of reported cases typically falls sharply due to a lag in weekend test results, the ministry had reported just 493 new cases, after more than 3,000 each on Sunday and Saturday and more than 2,500 per day last Wednesday through Friday.
The seven-day moving average of the case count, which smooths out daily reporting irregularities, has now been above 2,000 for five consecutive days, a level that was last seen around the middle of April.
Following a sharp uptick in new infections, the French government announced on Tuesday it would make the wearing of masks mandatory in all workplaces from Sep 1.
Despite the jump in infections, the number of people in hospital fell again by 102 to a new low of 4,823 and the number of people in intensive care slipped by four to 380, reflecting a preponderance of younger people among new cases who are more likely to be asymptomatic or not to fall seriously ill.
Both numbers had been on an uninterrupted downward trend since the peak of the pandemic in the first half of April, but that downtrend has slowed in the past two weeks.
The number of people in ICU is now back at levels seen at the end July, after having fallen as low as 367 last week.
The number of deaths increased by 22 to 30,451, following an increase of 19 on Monday and just 1 on Sunday.