French President Emmanuel Macron was due to address the nation on Wednesday amid widespread media speculation that he would announce a new lockdown to tackle the resurgent of COVIDC-19 pandemic.
Daily figures released by the government on Tuesday showed that 523 deaths of coronavirus patients had been recorded in 24 hours, the highest daily toll since April.
Macron has held two national defence council meetings to discuss the situation, while ministers discussed options with opposition leaders, businesses and trade unions.
The head of the French public hospitals federation, Frederic Valletoux, called for “radical” measures, saying that local curfews imposed in recent weeks had not had the desired effect.
“Today I call for a new lockdown that should be clear, with a definite timetable,’’ Valletoux told France Inter Radio.
The second wave of the epidemic would be “much more devastating” than the first because it would coincide with other seasonal ailments and staff were worn out, he warned.
France got its first wave of the coronavirus under control thanks to a strict 55-day lockdown that ran from mid-March to mid-May, but more than 26,000 patients had died by the time it was lifted.
The country’s total death toll now stands at 35,541.
Until recent weeks, officials had said they planned to do everything possible to avoid a second lockdown due to its economic and social impact.