The country recorded almost 10,000 new COVID-19 infections yesterday, its highest ever single-day total. Health authorities reported 9,843 new confirmed coronavirus cases, beating by almost 900 the previous record of 8,975, set six days earlier. Since the beginning of the month, new cases have gone up by 7,292 each day on average, a figure that blows away the previous record daily average of 3,003 seen in August.
Jean-Francois Delfraissy, president of the Scientific Council that advises the government on the pandemic, said the levels of infection had become “worrying”.
He said: “The government will be forced to make some difficult decisions within eight or ten days at the most.
“We can be deceptively reassured because the increase in the circulation of the virus has few repercussions on the health system.
“But a very rapid, exponential increase may occur at a later time.”
Prof Delfraisy said the spread of the virus was being closely monitored in big cities such as Paris and Marseille.
He said: “We must do everything we can to avoid local lockdowns.
“In these regions we could look into further restrictions of big gatherings of crowds.”
After reaching a low of 4,530 on August 28, the number of people hospitalised with COVID-19 is again trending upward in France, with an increase of 93 over the last 24 hours to 5,096, the highest total in more than a month.
That figure has now shot up for 12 days in a row with the number of patients in intensive care units rising to 615, a level not seen since the end of June.
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Hospital figures remain a long way for the surge of admissions in April when 4,000 people were hospitalised every day because of COVID-19 and up to 750 patients were admitted daily to intensive care.
But the increase has created a renewed strain on the hospital system that might lead authorities to take action.
Mr Macron’s decision to put the country under one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns between March 17 and May 11 was dictated by the need to keep the hospital system from being overwhelmed.
Mr Macron said he hoped any new measures would not be too restrictive.
He said he would not want to pre-empt any decisions but hoped existing rules such as social distancing and the compulsory wearing of face-masks would allow France to tackle the virus and let people live as normally as possible.
The president said: “We need to do it while allowing us to continue to live, such as being able to educate our children, treat other illnesses and protect other patients.”
The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections increased by 19, to 30,813 – the seventh-highest death toll in the world.
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)