France will soon produce some 17 million washable and reusable cloth masks per week for the general public, and tens of millions of others have been ordered abroad. But for the moment a shortage remains, said government spokesman Emmanuel Macron, Sibeth Ndiaye. “We can’t deny the shortage,” Ndiaye told BFM TV, as she admitted that the government had faced “logistical difficulties” as demand for masks skyrocketed. because of growing fears of coronavirus contagion.
His comments came shortly after the French Academy of Medicine urged the French to “immediately” start wearing a homemade facial mask when they venture outside to help reduce the spread of virus.
President Macron has been criticized for the lack of face masks and other protective equipment. Critics say his government’s early insistence that the masks were not useful was in fact due to a shortage.
France is expected to start breaking its strict lockdown from May 11. Schools and some stores will gradually reopen, but the government has not yet specified when businesses like cafes and cinemas could restart and how far people will be allowed to move.
In a rare mea culpa, Macron admitted last week that the country was unprepared for the health crisis that left more than 20,000 people dead in the country.
“We were running out of dresses, gloves, hand gel and we were not able to distribute as many masks as we would have liked,” he said in a televised speech.
He added that in mid-May France would be able to test anyone with symptoms of coronavirus and give the public non-surgical face masks.
The country will shortly produce some 17 million washable and reusable cloth masks per week, and tens of millions more have been ordered overseas.
The number of people who died from coronavirus infection in France rose from 544 to 21,340 on Wednesday, the fourth largest count in the world after the United States, Italy and Spain.
The number of people hospitalized with the flu-like virus has dropped from 365 to 29,741, the eighth consecutive drop, health chief Jerome Salomon said at a daily press conference.
The number of patients in intensive care units – the single most important measure of a health care system’s ability to respond to the epidemic – decreased by 215 to 5,218, the 14th consecutive decline . There are now almost 2,000 fewer people in the ICUS compared to the April 7,148 peak.