Friday, 5 Mar 2021

Coronavirus spreads in French parliament as FOUR new cases confirmed in 24 hours

Mme Sage is French Polynesia’s representative in the National Assembly and is thought to have caught the disease during a trip to Paris last week. She is the first confirmed case of the virus across the Pacific Islands. M Chassaigne is the leader of the French Communist Party’s (PCF) parliamentary group, while Mme Mörch and M Gérard are members of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling La République en Marche (LREM) party.

Other politicians who have tested positive for the virus include Socialists Michèle Victory and Sylvie Tolmont, LREM centrists Guillaume Vuilletet and Elisabeth Toutut-Picard and Conservative Jean-Luc Reitzer – the only MP so far to have developed a more serious form of the disease.

Sessions in the lower house have been interrupted until March 22 due to key mayoral elections that are taking place across France, reducing activity and hopefully the number of likely infections.

French Culture Minister Franck Riester also tested positive for coronavirus this week and is working from home. No other government officials are known to have the illness.

However, measures are in place to protect M Macron: meetings are being kept to a minimum, desks cleaned twice a day, video conference calls encouraged and non-essential visitors turned away.

The French government on Thursday dramatically stepped up its response to the worsening health crisis, announcing it would close all nurseries, schools and universities from Monday in a bid to slow the spread of the outbreak.

 M Macron said in a televised address from the Elysée palace: “This epidemic is the gravest public health crisis that France has known in a century.

“Despite efforts to slow it down, the virus continues to spread and is accelerating.”

The 42-year-old leader also urged employers to allow their staff to work from home wherever possible and said that people over 70 years of age or with existing health conditions should stay inside as much as they can.

The number of confirmed cases in France has risen to 2,876, with 129 people in a very serious, life-threatening condition, the Health Ministry said shortly before M Macron’s speech.

The death toll has reached 61.

The flu-like disease, which first emerged in a wet market in central China in December, has infected more than 134,300 people across 121 countries and regions and killed over 5,000.

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