Macron to address nation as rise of Covid-19 in France draws fire from critics

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Macron to address nation as rise of Covid-19 in France draws fire from critics


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                Le président Emmanuel Macron prononcera un discours télévisé aux heures de grande écoute mercredi soir alors que le pays attend une décision du gouvernement sur de nouvelles mesures pour mettre fin à la flambée des cas de coronavirus, a annoncé mercredi son bureau.
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                                    <p>Macron a attiré le feu des partis d'opposition et de certains experts médicaux pour avoir refusé d'imposer un verrouillage national plus tôt, beaucoup s'attendant maintenant à ce que les écoles doivent être fermées dans les régions les plus durement touchées pour endiguer l'épidémie.

The 8:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. GMT) speech will follow a weekly meeting of senior cabinet officials on Wednesday morning to discuss the crisis, which has already seen authorities declare limited lockdowns in 19 departments including the Paris region.

Macron’s latest address comes as the health situation deteriorates in France, putting a strain on hospitals. The number of patients in intensive care rose to 5,072, beyond normal hospital capacity and the peak of the second wave in November. The number of cases has also increased sharply in recent days.

Nearly nine out of 10 intensive care beds are currently occupied by Covid-19 and other health cases, according to the Department of Health, which says “the increase in capacity continues in all regions”.

The deterioration has increased pressure on Macron following his resistance to advice from public health experts to impose stricter containment measures.

The official decision to keep schools open has drawn strong criticism, particularly in the neglected suburb of Paris, where the rise in Covid-19 cases among teachers has sparked debate on the merits of France’s “open schools” policy. “.

>> Read more on ‘Schools remain open at all costs – even without teachers’

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo told French TV station BFM that schools should be closed.

France has been under a nighttime curfew since mid-December and in parts of the country, including Paris, citizen movement has been restricted and some non-essential shops closed. Bars, restaurants and cinemas have been closed for months.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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