France reported a fall in new COVID-19 infections on Sunday for the fourth successive day.
Health ministry data showed there had been 19,175 new confirmed COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours compared with 20,586 the previous day.
But the data also showed the number of patients being treated in hospital for the disease had risen to 27,694 from 27,369 the previous day, following a four-day decline. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care also rose, increasing to 3,272 from 3,225 the day before.
The government has resisted calls for a third nationwide lockdown from health experts who fear that more contagious coronavirus variants could soon overwhelm hospitals.
The government is aiming to rein in high contamination rates through an evening curfew and tougher rules on foreign travel. Its junior transport minister said on Sunday that a ban on non-essential travel to and from destinations outside the European Union had halved air passenger numbers in a week.
But doctors are particularly concerned about rising cases of a coronavirus variant first detected in Britain.
The variant could represent a majority of new cases from the beginning of March, Arnaud Fontanet, an epidemiologist and member of the government’s advisory body on COVID-19, told newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.
France’s cumulative death toll in hospitals and nursing homes has reached 78,965, compared with 78,794 a day earlier, the health ministry data showed.