PARIS (AP) – The French president says he has no reason to regret his refusal to impose a third national lockdown earlier this year, even as rising coronavirus infections are putting pressure on his country’s hospitals and more dying every week than 1,000 people with the virus.
President Emmanuel Macron’s administration has stressed the importance of keeping children in school and in business as the pandemic stretches into a second year. However, families of French COVID-19 victims say Macron is turning a blind eye to their suffering.
“We were right not to implement a lockdown in France at the end of January because we didn’t have the explosion of cases that each model predicted,” Macron said at the end of a European Union summit Thursday at the end of January. ‘There will be no mea culpa from me. I have no regrets and will not acknowledge failure. “
France has been advocating for months a “third way” between imprisonment and freedom, including a nationwide curfew and the closure of restaurants, museums, cinemas, gyms, many shopping centers and a few other businesses. The measures kept the infection rate stable in France for a while, but it has risen significantly again this month.
France has recorded the fourth highest number of confirmed virus cases and one of the highest pandemic death rates with 93,378 lives lost. Intensive care units are back on or off capacity in Paris and several other regions due to a flood of critically ill COVID-19 patients.
Many medical workers have for weeks urged the French government to impose stricter restrictions in response to the more contagious virus variant first identified in Britain, which is now the dominant form of the virus in France.
“A zero virus situation does not exist, and that applies to every country in Europe. We are not an island, and even the islands that had protected themselves sometimes saw the virus come back, ”said Macron. “But we felt that we could cope with the curfew and the measures we had.”
Relatives of people with COVID-19 who have passed away took to social networks to express their anger at Macron’s comments.
“I started listening to him, and it started to irritate me and I had to change channels,” said Lionel Petitpas, whose wife, Joelle, died last year.
“It’s insane. Macron, the Prime Minister, they always think they are making the right decision. As a citizen, I declare that no, because we are in the exact same situation we were a year ago,” said Petitpas, who founded an association to support families. mourn along with virus victims, against The Associated Press.
He recognized the challenges facing those who have lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the pandemic. But he asked, “What’s the point of an economy if no one is healthy enough to run it?”
While the government is determined to avoid another nationwide lockdown, Macron said tougher measures could be announced in the coming days. Last week, the government closed non-essential stores and imposed travel restrictions on residents of Paris and several other regions, but some doctors fear this won’t be enough to slow the new outbreak.
“We have an occupancy rate of 100% for almost a month. We have expanded our capabilities to the maximum, ”said Dr. Mohamed El Hadi Djerad of the Pierre Beregovoy de Nevers Hospital in Burgundy on the local broadcaster France-3. “We are in a crisis situation.”
The infection rate in Burgundy has doubled in two weeks.