France sees 23,507 COVID-19 infections, 439 deaths in 24 hours

The number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 in France increased by 23,507 in the past 24 hours, while another 439 patients died, according to figures released by health authorities on Friday.

This daily count, down from 25,279 on Thursday, has brought the country’s accumulative total of infections to 3,859,102. The total of deaths reached 88,274.

Some 24,765 people with COVID-19 remained hospitalized, down by 126 in one day. Among them, 3,680 were receiving intensive treatment, up from 3,633 recorded on Thursday.

Despite growing concerns over the spread of more contagious variants, French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday retained from imposing a new nationwide lockdown but ordered tougher restrictions.

As in Alpes-Maritimes and Dunkirk, people in Pas-de-Calais in northern France have to stay at home from 6 a.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Three more departments — Hautes-Alpes, Aisne and Aube — are added to the list of high-alert zones, where large malls will close and mask-wearing will be reinforced in all urban areas starting from Friday midnight.

Local authorities will have the power to impose a ban on public gatherings on weekends in most crowded areas in these departments “under reinforced surveillance” where inhabitants are called to limit their travel as much as possible.

So far, 3,392,269 people in France have received at least one shot of vaccines. The government plans to inoculate 10 million citizens by mid-April, 20 million by mid-May and a total of 30 million, or two-thirds of the adults by summer.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in an increasing number of countries with the already-authorized vaccines.

Meanwhile, 261 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 79 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain, and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on March 5.