The ministry said in its daily update that 131 people had died of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours in France, bringing its total death toll in hospitals and nursing homes to 28,239.
The total numbers in intensive care fell by 89 patients to 1,998, the first time it has been under 2,000 since March 22nd.
This figure, which is a crucial measure of pressure on the hospital system, has been falling since April 9th after hitting a peak of 7,148.
A total of 19,015 people remain in hospital suffering from Covid-19.
France's health bosses have been nervously watching the intensive care figures since the epidemic began, both as a measure of pressure on the health system and a crucial indicator for the days ahead.
At the start of the outbreak France had just 5,000 intensive care beds in total. This was hastily increased to 10,000 through buying extra equipment, converting beds in private hospitals and setting up a military hospital in Mulhouse, eastern France.
Although 10,000 proved to be enough capacity, intensive care services in eastern France and the Paris region were extremely stretched and hundreds of the sickest patients were transferred to other countries or to less badly affected areas of France, many on specially converted TGV trains.
France began lifting its strict two-month lockdown on May 11th, and health chiefs are now nervously waiting to see if cases will spike again – experts believe it will take between 10 days and two weeks to begin to see the effects of lifting lockdown.
In recent days the daily death tolls have fluctuated widely, with officials saying there have been some problems of daily reporting of deaths in the country's Ehpad care homes leading to some figures later being revised.
A downward lurch in France's Covid-19 mortality figures today after the upwards lurch yesterday. The rollercoaster continues… There were 131 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, bringing the running total to 28,329.
— John Lichfield (@john_lichfield) May 18, 2020
Daily death totals have varied from 383 to 96 over the past seven days, but the average total total now stands at around 200, for deaths in hospitals and care homes.