Around 2,000 surgical masks were stolen from a hospital in the southern French city of Marseille during a coronavirus outbreak, the health authorities said on Tuesday.
The masks were stolen from part of the Conception hospital that is only accessible to staff and patients who have had surgery, the Marseille Hospital Authority (AP-HM) told AFP.
"The AP-HM immediately launched an internal investigation to find the culprits," it said.
It affirmed that the hospital had enough masks to continue normal operations, but that it had ordered more and taken steps to secure its inventory of masks and disinfectant wrists.
The news of the theft came when President Emmanuel Macron announced that the authorities would request all face mask stocks and production in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Macron said they would be reserved for coronavirus patients and health professionals.
In France, four people died from the virus, which confirmed 204 cases of the disease.
Face masks have also become aware of thieves in Japan, who left around 6,000 masks in mid-February from a hospital in the western city of Kobe.