French PM says no risk of second lockdown in event of second wave
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The French government has said that it is preparing for a possible second wave of Covid-19 cases, but will not be putting the entire country into lockdown to contain the outbreak.
"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 BFM TV channel.
"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.
France had already announced it is to roll-out a mass Covid-19 testing programme in the five worst affected regions.
Officials reported 124 new cases in the territory on Tuesday, bringing the total to nearly 5,200. The government has dispatched dozens of health workers from the mainland to reinforce hospital staff.
In Paris, traces of the virus have been found in wastewater in Paris according to Le Monde daily.
Six of the 12 samples taken between 22 and 25 June tested positive, but at a “very low” level reported the paper on Wednesday.
On Tuesday France's public health chief Jerome Salomon warned the country "had to be prepared for a second wave" and called on the French to "be careful" and adapt their behaviour accordingly.
Boosted recovery package
Castex was named by President Emmanuel Macron last week to lead a new government tasked with orchestrating the country's recovery from its worst health and economic crisis since World War II.
Billions of euros have been promised for investments as well as measures to limit job losses as the economy is expected to shrink around 10 percent this year. The latest economic forecast published by national statistics office INSEE on Wednesday was slightly more upbeat, predicting shrinkage of 9 percent.
"We are going to protect people, but above all we are going to invest in ecological transformation, in our country's recovery," Castex said.
He also confirmed he had increased a proposed wage hike and larger budget for hospital staff by around one billion euros in negotiations with unions this week, bringing the total package to 7.5 billion euros.
But union leaders say that would lift monthly pay for nurses, technicians and others on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight by only 180 euros a month, far short of demands for a 300-euro raise.
The outbreak has killed nearly 30,000 people in France since the first cases were reported in January.
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