France confirmed nearly 13,500 new COVID-19 cases over a 24-hour period on Saturday, setting another daily record in the number of infections in the country since the coronavirus pandemic began.
According to Santé France, the French health authority, 13,498 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in 24 hours, 283 more than the day before when a previous record was set with 13,215 cases.
The new cases bring the total number of recorded instances of the virus in France to 442,194.
The number of people who have died from the virus also rose by 26 during the same 24-period, bringing the total deaths from COVID-19 in France to 31,274 since March.
France has continued to see a daily increase in cases with the rate of positive tests increasing to 5.6 per cent, the highest it has been in recent days.
Authorities have attributed the rise in reported cases to larger-scale testing after the French government made them free and a faster circulation of the virus.
Staff at testing centres went on strike on Thursday in a dispute over working conditions as the testing system buckled under the surge in demand.
In a bid to speed up testing, the government approved the use of saliva tests on Wednesday.
Considered to be less evasive than nasal swabs, the tests are seen as not as effective, failing to detect coronavirus in three-quarters of patients who were asymptomatic.
While France’s Haute Autorité de Santé (HAS), an independent public health body, approved the use of saliva tests, it said they shouldn’t replace nasal tests.
In a statement on Friday, HAS added: “The use of saliva tests could also increase testing capacity in screening situations where nasopharyngeal sampling is difficult to perform.”
Cities and regions across France have braced for the imposition of tighter restrictions to bring the latest spike in cases under control.
Bordeaux and Marseille have already introduced stricter local measures, including restricting gatherings on beaches, public events outdoors and visits to elderly care homes.
Nice, Lyon, and their surrounding regions were expected to follow suit, with the government asking local authorities to submit their proposals for new measures on Saturday.
Germany also recorded its highest daily jump in infections since April with 2,297 new cases, according to the country’s health ministry.
The increase on Saturday is still far below the daily incidence rate at the peak of the pandemic in March when over 6,000 cases were noted daily.