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France becomes first European country to top 2 million COVID-19 cases

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France on Tuesday became the first European country to surpass 2 million coronavirus cases despite an Oct. 30 nationwide lockdown that has led to a sharp decline in new infections, according to a Reuters tally.

France is fourth in the number of infections reported, with 2,036,755, behind the United States, India and Brazil. With a death toll topping 45,000, France ranks seventh in COVID-19 deaths globally.

Europe has reported nearly 14.5 million COVID-19 cases so far, making it the worst-affected region in the world and accounting for more than 26% of all infections so far, according to the tally.

After hitting a peak of nearly 87,000 new infections in a single day on Nov. 7, the rate in France has dropped sharply with the total reaching a more than one-month low on Monday, at 9,406. The Monday figure tends to dip as there are fewer tests conducted on Sundays.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Tuesday the country was regaining control over the coronavirus but was not ready to ease the second national lockdown imposed to rein in the outbreak.

Despite the fewer daily cases, the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 has reached an all-time high, and France has the third-highest number of deaths in Europe after the United Kingdom and Italy.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government has set a Dec. 1 target for ending the lockdown, although it might be extended if the numbers do not fall fast enough.

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