President Macron is fighting to save his image amid a series of blunders in France’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, including the revelation that a billion face masks were burned before the crisis.
It appeared that the masks considered too old to be used were destroyed and not replaced, France having reduced its planning in the event of a pandemic after neither the SARS nor the swine flu were as deadly as expected.
Earlier this year, army base personnel cremated much of the country’s face mask stock, which had peaked at $ 1.7 billion in 2011, as part of cost-cutting measures.
There were only 117 million masks left when the pandemic began to roll out across France, which meant that front-line health workers struggled to get one for weeks.
FFP2 masks (like the one shown above) that filter 94% of particles while ordinary surgical masks only filter 80%
The number was desperately less than the 40 million masks that health workers needed to protect them every week in March and April, at the height of the pandemic.
The facial mask fiasco has had a huge impact on public confidence in President Macron, who faces charges of incompetence. Key pollsters say the news has “really damaged its image.”
The government of the centrist president has also been accused of dishonesty for initially declaring to the public that there is no point in wearing masks outside.
Some say that this message was an attempt to cover up the fact that there were not enough masks for everyone.
Jean-Paul Hamon, president of the Federation of Doctors of France, said he was reassured at a meeting of the Ministry of Health in February that general practitioners were equipped with FFP2 masks, which filter 94% of particles.
Ordinary surgical masks filter barely 80%.
Macron’s government has repeatedly stated that there was no pill providing ordinary masks for the general public in the first weeks of the crisis, but backed down last month after the first delivery of more than two billion masks from China
He said that eight days after the meeting, officials called to say that GPs did not need FFP2 masks and that ordinary masks would be sufficient as long as patients also wore them.
He told The Times, “The problem was that there were not enough masks for the patients. It was then that we started to think, “Hey, ho! There is something here ”.
Hamon also said that some of the 35 doctors’ deaths from the coronavirus would have been reduced if more FFP2 masks had been distributed.
“The ministers lied when they said that FFP2 masks were not necessary for general practitioners, and they lied again when they said that it was useless to provide ordinary masks to the general public,” he said. -he declares.
Macron’s government repeatedly provided this health advice during the first weeks of the crisis, but backed down last month after the first shipment of more than two billion masks from China.
Face masks are now recommended in stores and are mandatory on trains.
Protective masks from China are unloaded on May 25 at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in Roissy-en-France
“They should have taken it over and said, ‘Okay, we armed, we thought we had enough masks, but in fact we don’t and we will just have to manage until our production capacity increases “Said Dr. Hamon Fois.
Dr Hamon said officials also reassured doctors that enough tests would be available with the help of other European countries, but that the tests came from Germany and that they were keeping them.
So far there have been around 146,000 infections and nearly 28,600 deaths from coronavirus across France.
The fiasco overshadowed Macron’s attempts to build public support throughout the crisis, including placing nearly 13 million workers on leave and pledging to abandon his controversial plan to restrict rights to workers. pension.
“The manipulation of the masks really damaged his image,” said Pierre Giacometti, one of the main pollsters.
“People feel like he did not have a clear vision of what he was doing and tried to hide the truth from them.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, photographed at a recent press conference with Angela Merkel, lost his majority in the National Assembly
He added that Macron had the lowest marks for his handling of the crisis among all Western leaders, alongside Pedro Sanchez of Spain.
He told The Times, “The incredible thing is that ministers are on TV saying,” Look, we have done more than any other country, we have the best vacation plan for anyone, “and then you to lead the French not to recognize it and to say: “The government has not done enough”.
Macron is ready to be re-elected in 2022, five years after overthrowing traditional French parties and defeating the far right Marine Le Pen to win the presidency in 2017.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the president had lost his absolute majority in the French parliament after seven defectors joined a new bloc to demand a more leftist agenda.