France reported on Saturday that 5,273 people were in intensive care units (ICU) for COVID-19, a rise of 19 from the previous day, as the country entered its third national lockdown to help combat the pandemic.
The government had been trying to keep the lid on new COVID-19 cases with curfews and regional measures but from Saturday, and for the next four weeks, schools and non-essential businesses across the country will remain shut.
The rise in ICU patients on Saturday followed a much bigger jump the day before - the highest in five months, at 145. President Emmanuel Macron has pledged more hospital beds to care for critically ill COVID-19 patients.
Macron had hoped to steer France out of the pandemic without having to impose a third national lockdown that would further batter an economy still reeling from last year's slump.
But new strains of the virus have swept across France and much of Europe, amid a slower rollout of anti-COVID vaccines in the European Union than in some countries including Britain and the United States.