Over the past few weeks, France has been reporting tens of thousands of new infections per day and is now recording more than 380 new cases each week per 100,000 people.
Health officials recorded 523 virus-related deaths in 24 hours Tuesday, the highest daily tally since April, bringing the country’s overall death toll to 35,541, the third-highest toll in Europe after Britain and Italy.
Macron’s Wednesday night address comes just hours after Germany announced a limited lockdown to begin on November 2, which will see restaurants, bars and theatres close. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the measures were an attempt to avoid “an acute national health emergency”.
Germany saw 15,000 new cases on Wednesday, a record for the nation, which had fared better than its neighbours over the summer and avoided a total lockdown on the model of the UK and France.
Also on Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned that Europeans would experience a “different Christmas” this year. “We are deep in the second wave,” she said.
Many French doctors had been calling for a new nationwide lockdown, noting that 58 percent of the country’s intensive care units are now occupied by Covid-19 patients and medical staff are under increasing strain.
“The government didn’t take into account what the first wave was and didn’t learn all its lessons,” Frederic Valletoux, president of the French Hospital Federation, said Wednesday on France Inter radio.
He called for a full, month-long lockdown, saying “this wave will be much more devastating for the hospital system. Hospitals won’t manage if we don’t take drastic measures.”