Police walk in a street with restaurants in Paris on October 6, 2020, during a patrol to inspect the implementation of new sanitary measures aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak in the French capital. Photo: AFP/Thomas Coex

France was preparing Thursday for tighter coronavirus restrictions in several major cities, two days after a maximum alert protocol went into force in Paris.

The number of daily coronavirus infections came in at 18,746 in France on Wednesday, health authorities reported, a record since widespread testing began.

The rate of positive test results rose to 9.1% from about 4.5% one month ago.

“The virus has been spreading faster in recent weeks,” President Emmanuel Macron said late Wednesday.

“In places where it is spreading too fast, especially where it is spreading among the elderly who are most at risk, and where there are more and more intensive care beds being occupied, we must proceed to more restrictions,” he said on French TV.

He said new measures would be similar to protocols put in place in and around the capital, as well as the region around Marseille in the south.

“We are not in a normal situation, and we won’t be for several months,” Macron said.

In Paris, bars and cafes were shuttered on Tuesday for two weeks to stop the spread of the virus, just over a week after new restrictions were imposed on Marseille and the overseas department of Guadeloupe.

Health Minister Olivier Veran is scheduled to hold a news briefing on the virus situation later Thursday.

Last week, Veran singled out five large cities – Lille, Lyon, Grenoble, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse – as possibly requiring more restrictions, saying their health situations were “very worrying.”

The number of coronavirus patients in hospital care rose to 7,514 across France on Wednesday from 7,377 a day earlier, with 1,406 in intensive care, of some 5,000 units nationwide.

The same day, authorities reported 80 new coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, taking the total number in France to 32,445.