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13 Mar 2020 | 04:58 AM UTC

France: Government closes all schools, nurseries, and universities due to COVID-19 from March 16 /update 6

French government closes all schools, nurseries, and universities due to COVID-19 from March 16; further spread of the virus expected over the near term

health
FRA

Event

President Emmanuel Macron announced on Thursday, March 12, that all nurseries, schools, and universities, will be closed from Monday, March 16, until further notice due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He also called on nationals to limit movement as much as possible. Despite these new measures, Macron added that public transport will continue to operate and that municipal elections scheduled on Sunday, March 14, will go ahead.

Authorities previously announced on Sunday, March 8, a ban on public gatherings of more than 1000 people. Authorities clarified that the ban will not include gatherings in public transport or demonstrations, but did not specify when the ban would cease.

As of March 12, there have been over 2281 cases of the virus confirmed in France, along with 48 related deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

• Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.

• When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.

• If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.