World, Europe

French health minister urges measures against virus

Although 2nd wave still far off, country's health minister urges all to maintain vigilance

Cindi Cook   | 29.07.2020
French health minister urges measures against virus

PARIS

A two-month period since the lifting of lockdown has not abated Health Minister Olivier Veran's concern.

"[France} is not in a second wave of the coronavirus but we must not give up," he said in an interview Wednesday on LCI Television.

Veran's comments came as certain regions in France showed rises in infections over recent days and weeks, a troubling trend that cannot be ignored.

The minister urged the population to continue practicing the barrier gestures in place -- social distancing and wearing masks, the latter of which was made mandatory on July 20 in all enclosed public spaces throughout France.

"We do not want to resort to another lockdown. We are examining things on a case-by-case basis," he said.

After originating in China last December, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has spread to 188 countries and regions worldwide. A total of 14 people succumbed to the coronavirus on Tuesday, which doubles last week's daily average. 5,551 people remain hospitalized with 385 in intensive care.

Since the start of the outbreak, France's death toll stands at 30,226 with cases at 183,804 and 81,441 people having recovered.

"People must understand that we are going to live with this virus for a fairly long time. The war is not over," said Veran.

The ministry has determined that there are now nine departments in France that remain in a vulnerable state, including Guyane, Mayotte, Mayenne, Gironde, Nord, Val d'Oise, Vosges, Haut-Garonne, and Haute-Savoie. The most concerning is Quiberon, a commune in Brittany to the north, where a new cluster of 72 cases emerged over the past week, while there had been only one case as of July 21.

With its situation as a peninsula -- thus a summer oceanfront destination -- the situation is worrisome. Masks are now compulsory in outdoor and indoor public spaces.

Commenting on the situation there, Veran said: "If it is necessary to take other measures, we will take them. We do not want to arrive at a re-containment."

Other towns in Brittany have followed suit, such as Concarneau and Saint-Brieuc, as well as Caibourg in neighboring Normandy, and La Rochelle further down the coast. Masks are compulsory in all public places.

Even on the opposite coast, the mayor of Nice has made the wearing of masks obligatory in all public spaces.

The pandemic has killed more than 661,200 people worldwide, with infections reaching over 16.77 million, while nearly 9.8 million have recovered, according to figures compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University. The US, Brazil, and India are currently the worst-hit regions.

"The pandemic is continuing. Some people do not respect it. We must not let down our guard," cautioned Veran.

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