French PM rules out new total lockdown if virus epidemic returns

Newly appointed French Prime Minister Jean Castex said his government is preparing for a second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic, but ruled out a repeat of the near-total lockdown on public movement which was applied at a national level between March and May, and instead locking down specific areas of any resurgence, because 'the economic and human consequences from a total lockdown are disastrous'. 

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The French government said Wednesday it was readying for a possible surge in Covid-19 cases in coming months but would not respond to any new outbreak with another nationwide lockdown, reports RTL.

"My aim is to prepare France for a possible second wave while preserving our daily life, our economic and social life," new Prime Minister Jean Castex said in an interview on RTL television.

"But we're not going to impose a lockdown like the one we did last March, because we've learned... that the economic and human consequences from a total lockdown are disastrous," he said.

Instead any business closures or stay-at-home orders would be "targeted" to specific areas, he said.

"The coronavirus is still here," Castex warned, adding that he would travel on Sunday to France's South American territory of French Guiana, which is reeling from a surge in cases.

Officials reported 124 new cases in the territory on Tuesday, bringing the total to nearly 5,200, and the government has dispatched dozens of health workers from the mainland as well as a field hospital.

The head of France's national health agency, Jerôme Salomon, said authorities were anticipating a second wave of Covid-19 cases "this autumn or this winter", depending on a seasonal impact that remains uncertain.

"What we have to understand is that the epidemic's resurgence will basically depend on our behaviour," he said in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper.

Even as millions of people prepare to relax over the summer holiday seasons, Salomon urged continued social distancing and the use of face masks, "especially in crowded places and indoors".

Read more of this report from RTL.

 

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