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France records 27,228 new COVID-19 cases, 302 more deaths

epa08731090 People wearing protective face masks wait in line outside of a screening lab located inside the town hall of the 15th district, in Paris, France, 09 October 2020. According to the Regional Health Agency, the Ile-de-France region reported more than 8,000 deaths in total caused by COVID-19, including 24 deaths in 24 hours to exceed the alert threshold. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED BADRA

PARIS, Nov 15 (Reuters) - France has registered 27,228 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a further 302 deaths from the disease in the last 24 hours, health ministry data showed on Sunday, although there were signs of a fall in the rate of new cases.

* Further 1,574 admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in 24 hours

* Total of 4,880 in intensive care units

* Macron: Next few days will be decisive

* French lockdown due to end Dec 1 but may be extended (Adds detail and background)

France has now recorded 1,981,827 confirmed COVID-19 cases in all, while 44,548 people have died from the virus – the seventh-highest death toll in the world.

Nevertheless, the data marked a slight decrease compared with the previous day’s COVID-19 figures in terms of new confirmed cases and deaths.

France is in the middle of its second, national lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the virus, following its March-May shutdown.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government has set a Dec. 1 deadline for this lockdown, although the government has said it could extend it beyond that if it feels the numbers are not falling fast enough.

The government is coming under pressure from shops and businesses to loosen restrictions in time for the Christmas shopping period.

Macron has taken to Twitter to remind the public of basic health measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Our fight against the epidemic involves all of us and the next few days will be decisive,” he wrote on Saturday. (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Blandine Henault; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Hugh Lawson)

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