France bans large gatherings as coronavirus toll rises

French Health Minister Olivier Veran gives a news briefing after a defence council with President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee palace in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - France banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people, as health authorities reported three new coronavirus deaths and an increase in the number of recorded infections on Sunday.

The new restrictions on large events expand on measures previously announced in coronavirus hotspots to apply them nationwide, health minister Olivier Veran said.

"The priority is to do all we can to slow the transmission of the virus," he said.

The revised figures take the country's death toll from the outbreak to 19, as the number of reported infections also rose.

The total number of confirmed cases came to 1,126 as of 1400 GMT, public health officials said. That represents an increase of 177 cases on the tally reported late on Saturday, which had risen by 336 over the previous 24 hours.

(Reporting by Blandine Henault; Writing by Laurence Frost; Editing by Alison Williams and Daniel Wallis)