France's coronavirus death toll increased by 278 or 1.1% to 25,809 Wednesday, just eight fewer than in Spain, which saw its virus toll rise by 204 or 0.8% to 25,817, official data showed.
The number of people in intensive care units fell by 283 or 8.3% to 3,147 in the biggest daily fall in four straight weeks of declines, the Health Ministry said in a statement.
The number of people in ICUs – a key measure of a health system's ability to deal with the pandemic – is now well below half the peak of 7,148 seen on April 8.
The number of people in hospital with coronavirus also fell again, to 23,983 from 25,775, continuing an uninterrupted three-week fall.
But despite a strict lockdown policy put in place on March 17, the number of new coronavirus infections in hospitals jumped by 4,183 or 3.1% to 137,150 in the biggest one-day increase since April 14.
The number of probable cases in nursing homes fell by 543 to 37,041 so that the total number of reported coronavirus cases went up by 3,640 or 2.1% to 174,191.
The French government plans to lift the lockdown on May 11 but has said that this depends on the number of new infections per day dropping below 3,000.
Over the past seven days, the average daily increase has been 1,110 cases per day.