French government defends fresh measures against virus surge

3 weeks ago
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France’s prime minister has led a debate in Parliament defending the new measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, saying the government has acted “consistently and pragmatically.”

Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the leftist La France Insoumise party denounced the vote as a “bad April fool’s.” He has dismissed the measures as being half-baked, and urged Macron to increase vaccine supplies and adopt a more effective vaccine strategy.

On Thursday the World Health Organization issued criticism of Europe’s vaccine rollout as being “unacceptably slow.”

Prime Minister Jean Castex said “the vaccination campaign is progressing and is being simplified every day. We have now reason to believe that we are advancing along the path of the possible exit to the crisis.”

He said more than 8 million people in France have received at least one dose of vaccine.

In the southern Paris suburb of Antony, faced with a surge in COVID cases, parents and teachers mostly welcomed announcements that schools were to close on Friday for three weeks, earlier than the scheduled Easter break.

Some headteachers welcomed the plans, saying the virus had put too many strains on staffing.

“We’d reached a point where everything was falling apart. … We were all close to exhaustion,” said Aline Becker, an elementary and preschool headteacher.

The French government has announced there will be help for the poorest families to cope financially, amid high or impossible childcare costs. Castex confirmed aid for “modest families whose children will no longer go to the canteen or will no longer be able to enjoy free breakfasts.”

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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