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PARIS: The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units in France has fallen for the second day in a row, despite a record infection rate, health ministry data showed on Friday.

France reported 3,895 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care units on Friday, 44 fewer than Thursday, and the second consecutive fall, despite the seven-day moving average of new infections reaching a new high of nearly 294,000 on Thursday.

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The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 rose by 357 to 24,511, but the week-on-week increase of 13.5% was the lowest since the start of the year.

France's Institut Pasteur said on Wednesday that it expected to see a peak of new Omicron variant coronavirus infections in mid-January, followed by a peak in hospital admissions in the second half of January.

France on Friday also reported 191 new deaths from COVID-19, taking the cumulative total to 126,721.

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