PARIS (Reuters) -The cumulative total for confirmed COVID-19 cases in France since the start of the pandemic has passed 20 million, health ministry data showed on Thursday.
The health ministry registered 274,352 new infections on Thursday, pushing the total to 20.15 million, Reuters calculations showed. The cumulative death toll is nearly 132,000.
The health ministry has not published the total number of infections since mid-January, when it stood at just over 14 million. Since then, the seven-day average of new infections has held at over 300,000 per day, adding about a million new cases every three days.
The first few infections in France were recorded at the end January 2020. The seven-day average of new cases rarely rose over 30,000 per day throughout 2020 and 2021.
But the arrival of the highly contagious Omicron variant in late 2021 pushed the seven-day average of new cases to more than 100,000 a day just after Christmas and the cumulative total of cases passed the 10 million cases milestone on Jan. 1, 2022.
As the infection rate sped up, the seven-day average of new cases rose to a record high of over 366,000 per day on Jan. 25.
Since then, the increase has slowed and the average has now fallen back to just under 300,000, but France still recorded nearly 10 millon new cases in January.
Health Minister Olivier Veran said earlier this week that the current wave seems to have peaked. He also said that a confirmed infection was equivalent to a COVID vaccine injection, provided that one has had at least one COVID shot.
Some 54 million of France’s more than 67 million citizens have now received at least one vaccination jab.
The ministry does not detail how many cases of double or triple infection might be included in its tally of cases.
(Reporting by Geert De ClercqEditing by Chris Reese and Frances Kerry)