PARIS (Reuters) -The number of coronavirus patients in French hospitals has dropped slightly as a third nationwide lockdown put in place early in April starts to have an impact, but France continues to report about 300 new COVID-19 deaths per day.
Health ministry data showed that 5,914 people were in intensive care units with COVID-19 on Friday, 10 fewer than on Thursday and the second fall this week.
In a second sign that pressure on France's hospital system is starting to ease, the number of hospitalised COVID-19 patients dropped by 196 to 30,472, the fourth consecutive drop this week, from a 2021 high of 31,262 on Monday.
"We are beginning to see a slowdown of the epidemic in those departments where we first introduced limits on the movement of people, and nationwide we are beginning to see a stabilisation. We must continue our efforts, as they are being rewarded," government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Friday.
France also registered 331 new coronavirus deaths on Friday, taking the cumulative toll to 100,404. Friday's death tally included 25 deaths in retirement care homes over the past three days.
With the government focusing its vaccination campaign on retirement care homes first, death tallies in these institutions have dropped sharply from several hundred per week at the start of this year to less than 50 per week this week and last week.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said earlier on Friday that virtually 100% of retirement care home residents have received a first COVID-19 vaccination and three quarters have also received their second shots.
(Reporting by GV De Clercq; Editing by Catherine Evans and Aurora Ellis)