PARIS (Reuters) – France reported 21,498 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, pushing total cases to 5.82 million, 2.02% more than a week ago and the slowest week-on-week increase since late June 2020.

Two weeks after the French government started gradually unwinding its third nationwide lockdown, the seven-day moving average of daily new cases has fallen to about 16,500, from more than 42,000 mid-April, when week-on-week increases in new cases were still over 6%.

The country reported 184 new deaths from COVID-19 on Wednesday and the gliding seven-day average of new deaths fell further to 213, from a 2021 high of 450 in early February.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Tuesday there was a clear downtrend in the evolution of the epidemic and France remained on track to lift the last anti-COVID-19 measures at the start of July.

The health ministry also reported that the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 fell further by 774 to 24,254 and the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care fell by 160 to 4,583. Both indicators fell for the ninth consecutive day.

(Reporting by GV De Clercq; Editing by Chris Reese and Philippa Fletcher)

FILE PHOTO: People, wearing protective face masks, walk past a closed restaurant in Paris amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France, May 6, 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier