Live COVID-19 updates: France's caseload surges by 34,998 in 24 hours

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BEIJING, March 19 (Xinhua) -- The following are the updates on the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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PARIS -- France registered 34,998 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, the second biggest daily tally after Wednesday's 38,501 since mid-November 2020, bringing the country's cumulative number of positive cases to 4,181,607, according to data from the country's health authorities.

Meanwhile, coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalization continued an upward trend in France. A further 268 patients have died within a day, bringing the death toll to 91,679. Admissions to hospital rose by 75 to 25,389, while those in intensive care units totaled 4,246, up by 27 from Wednesday.

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ROME -- Italy's Ministry of Health reported on Thursday that a further 423 patients have died of the coronavirus, pushing the accumulative COVID-19 death toll to 103,855 since the pandemic first officially started in the country in late February 2020.

Also on Thursday, the Ministry of Health reported that 24,935 new coronavirus infections had been detected, bringing the country's total active infections to 547,510.

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BRUSSELS -- Based on its preliminary investigation, the European Medicines Agency on Thursday concluded that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is "safe and effective," while not definitely ruling out possible link to rare blood clots accompanied by low levels of blood platelets.

"Close safety monitoring of reports of blood clotting disorders will continue, and further studies are being instituted to provide more laboratory data as well as real-world evidence," the European Union regulator for medicines said in a statement.

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LONDON -- Another 6,303 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 4,280,882, according to official figures released Thursday.

The country also reported another 95 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 125,926. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.

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ROME -- Italy will resume using the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday, following the announcement of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that the vaccine was safe, authorities said on Thursday.

"The Italian government welcomes the announcement by EMA ... The priority remains to administer as many jabs as possible in the shortest time," Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in a note released by his office.

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BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi Ministry of Health reported on Thursday 5,443 new coronavirus cases, raising the total nationwide infections to 779,458.

It also reported 36 new deaths, raising the death toll from the infectious virus to 13,896, while the total recoveries in Iraq climbed by 3,892 to 702,667.

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ADDIS ABABA -- The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from China arrived in Djibouti on Thursday. The vaccines, made by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac, will help the African country's immunization campaign against the pandemic.

The Chinese COVID-19 vaccines arrived on Thursday morning at Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport, and a ceremony, attended by Chinese ambassador to Djibouti, Zhuo Ruisheng, Djiboutian Foreign Minister, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf and Djiboutian Health Minister, Mohamed Warsama Dirieh, was held. Enditem

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