France new COVID-19 cases above 14,000, hospitalisations down

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French hospital faces second wave of COVID-19 patients

PARIS (Reuters) - French health authorities on Wednesday reported 14,064 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, up from Tuesday's 8,083, while hospitalisations for the disease continued a downward trend.

The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases now totals 2,244,635, the fifth-highest tally in the world.

The government has loosened its second national coronavirus lockdown, put in place on Oct. 30, by allowing all shops to reopen at the weekend.

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

Macron said on Tuesday that France should be in a position to embark on a broader COVID-19 vaccination campaign between April and June next year, after initially targeting a smaller group of people.

The number of people hospitalised for the disease fell by 626 in 24 hours to 27,013 and the number of patients in ICUs declined by 117 to 3,488.

The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections rose by 310 to 53,816, versus a rise of 775 on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)