Addressing a news conference from the coronavirus-wracked eastern French city of Mulhouse, where a military field hospital has been set up by the army, Macron promised comprehensive short- and long-term policy measures to tackle the crisis.
As part of the new “Operation Resilience”, the army will be deployed to help with logistics and medical support. France is also deploying helicopter carriers to help transport patients in overseas French territories in the Caribbean, South America and the Indian Ocean, Macron announced.
The French president promised a “massive” new investment plan for public hospitals, after years of cuts in the country’s renowned health care system that have complicated efforts to stem the spread of the virus.
"Once this crisis is over, a massive investment plan and an upgrade of the career paths will be put in place for our hospital system," said Macron.
Facing criticism that his government was too slow to lock down the country as the virus spread, Macron called for national unity and castigated those “who would fracture the country, when we should have one obsession: to be united to fight the virus”.
Call for national unity
Reiterating that France is at “war” with the virus, Macron warned: “We are just at the beginning. But we will make it through, because we will not surrender, because we have the strength.”
Macron's speech came as French health authorities on Wednesday reported 231 new deaths from coronavirus, taking the total to 1,331.
The rise in the number of deaths from coronavirus represents a daily increase in France of 21 percent, a slight slowing from the previous two days with the country now in its second week of lockdown.
France's health agency director Jérôme Salomon said the total number of coronavirus cases had risen to 25,233, a rise of about 13 percent in 24 hours.
Salomon added that 2,827 people were in a serious condition, needing life support, up 12 percent compared to Tuesday and meaning that more than one third of France's 8,000 beds equipped with ventilation gear are occupied.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)