France's Macron to give televised address as coronavirus epidemic worsens


President Emmanuel Macron will give a televised address on Wednesday evening, his office said, as French authorities explore fresh restrictions to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Elysee palace did not say what Macron's address would be about, but such televised statements have in the past been the occasion to announce new anti-virus measures during eight months of pandemic.

The French leader has held meetings to review the state of the epidemic in recent days.

The French government has been exploring bringing in a national lockdown from midnight on Thursday, BFM TV reported, albeit a slightly more flexible one than the two-month shutdown that began in mid-March.

Schools could remain open even as restrictions on people's movements become more severe, BFM TV added.

Sources familiar with the government's thinking told Reuters earlier this week that options being envisaged for some areas included confining people to their homes at weekends, closing non-essential shops and starting curfew measures earlier.

France imposed a daily curfew on major cities two weeks ago that runs from 9 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Macron's office declined to comment on whether he would announce a generalised lockdown on Wednesday.

France's government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 patients in French intensive care units could reach in two weeks the same level as during the peak of the first wave in April without new measures.

The country reported 523 new deaths from coronavirus over the past 24 hours, the highest daily toll since April 22, health ministry data showed on Tuesday.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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