France registered 37,014 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the public health authority announced Sunday.

Another 131 people died in hospitals, taking the country’s death toll to 94,623.

The latest figures for infections brought the country’s case count to more than 4.54 million.

A total of 27,712 people are being treated at hospitals with 4,872 in intensive care.

The number of people in France who have been vaccinated since Dec. 27 last year now exceeds 7.79 million, including more than 2.674 million who received their second jabs, according to Health Ministry data.

On March 16, the one-year anniversary of France’s first nationwide lockdown, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said “the pandemic is playing overtime. We are in what looks like a form of a third wave[…]characterized by the variants.”

Two days later, Castex took his first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine as its administration was resumed nationwide following an eight-day suspension due to safety concerns.

A week later on March 25, the country banned outdoor gatherings of more than six people to stem the spread of the disease as a third wave of infections peaked with a record 45,000 new cases.

“The trend is accelerating almost everywhere,” said Health Minister Olivier Veran, who announced restrictive measures in Aube, Nievre, and Rhone, taking the total of semi-confined administrative divisions to 19.

The diagnosis of 45,000 cases was last recorded in October, when France announced a second lockdown. Veran, however, refuted the possibility of a third lockdown.

The situation remains most worrying in the northern areas of the Paris region of Ile-de-France and Hauts-de-France and Provence in the south, which have been witnessing increased hospital admissions.

Admissions to ICU units include younger patients, many of whom are infected with rapidly spreading variants.

Since originating in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 2.78 million lives in 192 countries and regions.

Over 127 million cases have been reported worldwide, with recoveries surpassing 72 million, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University.

The US, Brazil and India remain the worst-hit countries in terms of cases.

*Writing by Ahmet Gencturk​​​​​​​

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