France to Close All Educational Facilities Amid Coronavirus Outbreak - Macron
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the spread of the so-called Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic. The number of cases of infections worldwide has surpassed 126,000 and more than 4,600 people have died from the disease.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is the most severe health crisis that France has seen in a hundred years. Macron also announced measures in a bid to tackle the spread of the contagious Chinese infection.
"This epidemic is the worst health crisis France has seen in a century", Macron said in his address to the nation televised by the Franceinfo broadcaster.
The French president said that all educational establishments across the nation will be closed starting from 16 March until further notice. Macron also vowed to ask French companies to allow its staffers to work from home. Authorities will assist the affected entities by reimbursement of expenses due to the newly imposed measure, according to Macron.
Macron added that the public transport system, however, will remain operating across the nation amid the outbreak, asking French residents to limit non-essential domestic travel.
While the coronavirus outbreak has reportedly displayed some signs of decline over the last few days in mainland China, and especially in the city of Wuhan - a ground zero for the COVID-2019 - European nations have been hit with rise in numbers of coronavirus cases.
As of today, France has nearly 2,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 33 deaths. In early March, French authorities requisitioned all stockpiles of face masks over the virus outbreak to distribute them among medical workers and those infected. Now, a prescription is required to buy a mask at a drugstore.
French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire has suggested the spread of COVID-19 would have significant consequences for the French economy.