“The epidemic is once again very active in our country,” Mr. Véran said.

France’s rate per capita of new cases over the last seven days is currently one of the highest in Europe, with 91 cases per 100,000 residents, up from 10 at the end of July. Gatherings of family and friends had become “massive” vectors of infections, Mr. Véran said.

In cities like Marseille and Bordeaux — where the number of cases has surged the most, and where authorities had limited public gatherings to 10 people last week — Mr. Véran said authorities might have to close bars and restaurants or ban gatherings completely.

Mr. Véran said that France had carried out over 1.2 million tests over the past week, but he acknowledged that massive demand had led to long lines and growing waiting times. Hundreds of medical lab workers even went on strike on Thursday over strained working

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