New coronavirus infections, hospitalisations decline again in France

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COVID-19 tent testing area in front of a pharmacy in Antibes

PARIS (Reuters) - France reported 13,563 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, compared with 16,282 on Wednesday and 21,150 a week ago, suggesting the spread of the virus continued to slow in the fourth week of a national lockdown.

The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 2.18 million in France.

The number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 continued falling by a further 662 to 29,310, while the number of people in intensive care fell by 130 to 4,018, extending a trend dating back two weeks, health ministry data showed.

President Emmanuel Macron said earlier this week that the lockdown could be lifted on Dec. 15 if by then the number of new infections per day fell to 5,000 and COVID-19 patients in intensive care declined to between 2,500 and 3,000.

France also reported 339 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals, down from 381 on Wednesday.

The seven-day moving average of deaths in hospitals and retirement homes now stands at 547, and has been falling for a week after setting an autumn lockdown peak of 625.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Mark Heinrich)