France: No return of the obligation to wear a mask, says the Minister of Health

PARIS (Reuters) – The Minister of Health, François Braun, said on Sunday that he did not wish for the moment to make it compulsory to wear a mask on public transport, despite warnings from scientists about the concomitance of epidemics of Covid-19, influenza and bronchiolitis.

“I appeal to responsibility. I am not generally in favor of coercion (…). I trust the French,” he said on BFMTV.

France has been in a “complicated” situation for several days, he says, due to the spread of the bronchiolitis virus, which is currently saturating pediatric services, the rise of the influenza virus, which is very present. already in the west of France, and the acceleration of the spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, Public Health France alerted to an increase in SOS Médecins acts and emergency visits linked to cases of Covid-19.

This acceleration has led certain scientists, such as the president of the committee for monitoring and anticipating health risks, Brigitte Autran, in the Journal du Dimanche, or even the National Academy of Medicine, to call for a resumption of the wearing of masks in the closed places.

However, hospital services for adults are not yet saturated to require the return of the obligation to wear a mask, said the Minister of Health, who said he was closely monitoring the evolution of the three epidemics.

The peak of the bronchiolitis epidemic should be reached soon, he said. And the flu virus appears to be responding well to the vaccine offered this year, he added.

François Braun therefore advises for the moment “very strongly the wearing of a mask” and calls on the French to reinforce barrier gestures and vaccination.

So far, only 7.2% of 60-79 year olds and 9.4% of those 80 and over have received a booster adapted to the Omicron variant (10.0% and 11.3% respectively among those eligible), according to data from Public Health France published on Friday.

“It is largely insufficient,” said the minister.

(Caroline Pailliez)

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