On Saturday, March 14, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe ordered the closure of nonessential public places and businesses, including restaurants, cafés, shops, and entertainment venues, from 23:59 (local time) on Saturday to limit individuals' movement and curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic within the country's borders. Food stores, pharmacies, and petrol stations are exempted from the measures and will be allowed to remain in operation. The move comes as health authorities announced that France is now facing a "stage 3" COVID-19 epidemic, with rapid transmission recorded across the country.
President Emmanuel Macron previously announced on Thursday, March 12, that all nurseries, schools, and universities would be closed from Monday, March 16, until further notice due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He also called on nationals to limit their movements as much as possible. Authorities previously announced on Sunday, March 8, a ban on public gatherings of more than 1000 people. Authorities clarified that the ban would not include gatherings on public transportation, which will remain operational, or in demonstrations but did not specify when the ban would cease. Municipal elections scheduled on Sunday, March 15, are still slated to be held.
As of March 14, France has recorded nearly 4500 cases of COVID-19, as well as 91 associated deaths.
Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.
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 trouble 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.
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, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.