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Macron to address the nation as France's epidemic surges

A medical worker tends to a patient affected with the COVID-19 in the Amiens Picardie hospital Tuesday, March 30, 2021 in Amiens, 160 km (100 miles) north of Paris. The number of patients in intensive care in France on Monday surpassed the worst point of the country's last coronavirus surge in the autumn of 2020, another indicator of how a renewed crush of infections is bearing down on French hospitals. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron scheduled a televised address to the nation for Wednesday night, a possible harbinger of tighter restrictions to combat surging coronavirus hospitalizations.

Previous nationwide lockdowns in March and October of 2020 were announced by Macron in televised speeches. His office said Wednesday that Macron will address the nation at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), without saying what he will announce.

Ahead of his weekly coronavirus strategy meeting Wednesday with ministers and aides, Macron was under intensifying pressure to close schools and further restrict people’s movements to ease growing pressure on hospitals.

The total number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care in France surged past 5,000 on Tuesday, the first time in 11 months that the figure has been that high

Short of a full lockdown, Macron is running out of alternatives to make a major dent in the renewed surge of infections that has led to growing questions about his government’s virus strategies. With presidential elections scheduled for 2022, Macron is having to weigh both political and health considerations.

An overnight nationwide curfew has been in place since January. In Paris and other regions where the virus is spreading rapidly, residents already also have extra restrictions on movement and nonessential stores are closed.

Schools closures were among options being considered Wednesday. They’d previously been described as a last resort by the government.