Tuesday, 19 Oct 2021

Macron on brink: French leader’s popularity plummets as he launches ‘risky’ lockdown ease

The poll of 1,019 people, conducted for newspaper Paris Match and Sud Radio on April 29-30, said 40 percent of people in France were satisfied with Mr Macron, compared with 46 percent last month. His dissatisfaction rating now stands at 59 percent, up five points from Ifop’s previous poll last month. The 42-year-old centrist is now less popular than his prime minister Edouard Philippe, the survey showed.

Forty-six percent of French people said they approved of Mr Philippe’s actions, up 10 points in two months; while 54 percent said they disapproved, down 10 points in two months.

The Macron government, who plans to start unwinding an almost eight-week full lockdown next week, has faced sharp criticism over a shortage of face masks and testing kits.

Officials, however, insist France will be able to test anyone presenting coronavirus symptoms and give non-surgical masks to the public once the lockdown is lifted.

France is to begin a gradual but “risky” return to normality on May 11, with shops, markets and some schools reopening. 

But life will not be as before, with face masks compulsory on public transport, working from home strongly encouraged for several more weeks and restaurants and cafés remaining shuttered until at least early June.

The French people “will have to learn to live with the virus,” Mr Philippe said last week, urging strict, ongoing respect of social distancing and personal hygiene measures to limit new infections to a minimum.

France reported more than 300 coronavirus-linked deaths for the second day running on Tuesday, but the number of people hospitalised with the infection and those in intensive care fell at their steepest rate on record. 

The number of people who have died from the respiratory disease climbed by 306 on Monday and 330 on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to 25,531. 

The Health Ministry also said the number of people in ICU fell to 3,430 from 3,696 on Monday, an unprecedented drop of 7.2 percent and in decline for the 27th consecutive day.

The number of people in hospital fell 3 percent, also at its steepest rate ever since the start of the outbreak, to 24,775, continuing an uninterrupted three-week fall.

Total confirmed cases rose by 1,104 to 132,967, well below the 3,000 the government has set as the upper limit before it would reverse the decision to partially lift the lockdown.

In addition to the confirmed cases, suspected cases in nursing homes dropped slightly to 37,584, for a total of 170,511, up 1,089 in 24 hours.

France has the fifth-highest coronavirus death toll in the world after the United States, Britain, Italy and Spain. 

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