PARIS • France reported 13,215 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours, a new record since the start of the epidemic, while the daily death toll jumped to a four-month high.
The new cases pushed the cumulative total to 428,696 as the seven-day moving average of daily new infections rose to more than 9,300, compared to a low of 272 at the end of May, two weeks after lockdown was lifted.
Epidemiologists blame the increase on a combination of faster circulation of the virus and a six-fold increase in testing since the government made it free.
The health ministry reported that the total number of deaths from Covid-19 increased by 154 to 31,249, a four-month high and triple the levels of the past week.
Earlier, the ministry reported that the toll had increased by 123, but then updated that to 154.
The health authorities attributed the sudden jump to previously unreported cases in one hospital located in Essonne, about 55km south of Paris.
As the infection rate increases daily, the most affected regions and cities in France have tightened regulations.
The city of Nice on the French Riviera will ban gatherings of more than 10 people in public spaces and force bars to close early after Marseille and Bordeaux introduced similar measures last Monday.
Paris, where the virus has also been circulating more quickly than elsewhere, has not banned gatherings of more than 10 people but the police prefecture said on Friday that it strongly advised against private gatherings of more than that number.
Hospital data was relatively stable on Friday, with the total number of people in hospital with Covid-19 down by 25 to 5,819 and the number of people in intensive care up by 27 to 800.
The virus has also infected French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who said he tested positive on Friday, making him the most senior official in the country known to be infected.
Mr Le Maire, who said he did not have any symptoms, is self-isolating at home and will remain there for seven days, in accordance with the latest rules.
His case follows that of Guatemala President Alejandro Giammattei last week, and earlier in the pandemic those of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, both of whom have recovered.
Mr Le Maire was an advocate of getting the economy going again as fast as possible. After the end of France's lockdown, he posed for cameras drinking coffee at a pavement cafe on the first day of the reopening of bars and restaurants in June.
His positive test is a concern for other senior government leaders.
Last Wednesday, he attended a Cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace with President Emmanuel Macron and other ministers and met the management of Suez later in the day.
Last Thursday morning, he hosted a meeting of France's financial stability council, which includes the chiefs of market and banking regulators and the governor of the Bank of France, Mr Francois Villeroy de Galhau.