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Health minister mulls making masks obligatory in public in northern France

A level 2 biosecurity laboratory at the Rega Institute for Mediacal Research in Louvain, Belgium, 26 February 2020.
A level 2 biosecurity laboratory at the Rega Institute for Mediacal Research in Louvain, Belgium, 26 February 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Text by: David Coffey with RFI
2 min

French Health Minister Olivier Véran has said that discussions are underway between police jurisdictions and France's regional health authority (ARS) on whether to make the wearing of face masks compulsory in public across the north of the country.

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Véran's comments came in response to a spike in new Covid-19 cases in neighbouring Belgium. 

The United States has the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world with over 150,700 deaths from almost 4.5 million cases, but Belgium now has the highest number of deaths per capita with 85 fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants. 

"We have been discussing [the proposed measures] with the police prefect and the director of the Regional Heath Authority for the North as well as elected officials, taking into consideration the proximity of Belgium and the tremors that are being felt in terms of the spread of the virus," said Véran. 

To back up his statement, Véran cited the latest statistics from the World Health Organization, adding: "The WHO recognises that the airborne transmission of the virus poses a serious threat."

The ARS regional health authority confirmed that talks were underway and that an announcement should be made at some stage on Thursday 30 July. 

The north on high alert

For the past 10 days, France's Nord department, which borders Belgium, has passed the symbolic threshold of 10 coronavirus cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Ministry of Health. 

The most recent figures, released on 25 July, indicate that over 17 cases per 100,000 were recorded in the region over the preceding week. 

Norway has said it will re-impose a 10-day quarantine on people arriving from Belgium from 1 August following the latest spike in Covid-19 cases.

 

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