France reports 26,784 new COVID-19 cases, highest since Nov. 18

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Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in France

PARIS (Reuters) - The French health ministry reported 26,784 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, up from 23,608 on Tuesday and 23,852 last Wednesday.

Wednesday's tally was the highest since Nov. 18, when 28,383 infections were registered during France's second lockdown that month. A record 86,852 cases were recorded on Nov 7.

France also reported 310 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals in the past 24 hours, from 229 last Wednesday. The seven-day moving average of coronavirus deaths in hospitals and retirement homes rose to 374, from 363 on Tuesday.

Four weeks after Christmas - when the government eased a curfew so French families could gather - the number of people in hospital with the virus increased by 119 to 25,686.

The seven-day moving average of new hospital admissions rose to 131, its highest level since Nov. 18. At the start of the second lockdown, that average stood over 1,000 for nine days.

The number of people in intensive care also continued increasing, up by 13 to 2,852, a level not seen since mid-December.

The government has said intensive care numbers need to be between 2,500 and 3,000 before it can consider easing limits on people movements.

Last Thursday, the government tightened a daily curfew to 1800 CET from 2000 CET.

(Reporting by Geert De Clercq)