‘Why are we waiting?’ French PM’s Covid-19 inaction questioned as government set to review plans for 3-week Paris lockdown

The French government has said it will review plans, submitted by Paris’s deputy mayor on Thursday, to lock down the capital for three weeks, after the PM placed the city and 19 other departments under “reinforced surveillance.”

“The proposal of the town hall will be studied, that’s why we are doing a consultation,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal told France Inter on Friday. 

“I hear very few scientists who say that in three weeks we can overcome the virus,” he added, noting: “In Germany, in December they announced confinement for three weeks. They are still there. (…) Because variants are a game-changer.”

The plan for a harsh three-week lockdown was proposed on Thursday by Paris Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire, who claimed the current curfew measures are “not enough to settle the curve.” 

Attal’s comments follow a much-awaited press conference on Thursday evening by Prime Minister Jean Castex, in which he announced that 20 departments had been placed under “reinforced surveillance” and that a series of marginally stricter measures would be introduced on March 6 if Covid-19 infections continued to increase.  

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Speaking on BFM TV on Friday morning, the mayor of Garenne-Colombes, Professor Philippe Juvin, questioned the prime minister’s hesitancy. “I do not see why we wait… When the epidemic rises, any day lost is a day that counts twice.” 

“On March 15 (2020), you remember we confined […] if we had confined seven days before, we would have had 13,000 fewer deaths,” Juvin, who is also the head of a Paris hospital emergencies unit, told BFM TV.

France is facing a worrying increase in Covid-19 infections across many areas of the country, as the vaccination campaign falters, and the more contagious British variant of the virus becomes more prevalent.

Earlier this week, the government reached agreements with local authorities to implement localized lockdowns in Nice and Dunkirk, the latter experiencing an infection rate of 901 cases per 100,000 people.

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