French President calls for financial solidarity in the EU and support for Italy - French President Emmanuel Macron has insisted Europe must help Italy in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic as he reiterated his support for budget solidarity in the European Union.
« France stands with Italy » said Emmanuel Macron in an interview with Italian newspapers on Saturday, a day after Italy recorded over 9,000 Covid-19 related deaths.
Macron, who is in favour of “corona loans” despite Germany’s reticence, called for stronger economic solidarity in Europe.
“I defend budget solidarity in the management of this crisis and of its consequences,” he said in the interview.
“What worries me is the illness of every man for himself: if we do not show solidarity, Italy, Spain or others would be able to say to their European partners: where have you been when we were on the frontline? I do not want this selfish and divided Europe”.
Thursday saw European leaders clash over the creation of a joint Eurozone debt instrument to help finance the bloc’s response to the global pandemic.
An acrimonious virtual summit of European leaders saw Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte refuse to sign up to the concluding statement after Germany and the Netherlands shot down the creation of the “corona bonds” debt scheme.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Germany’s Angela Merkel insisted the European Stability Mechanism, the Eurozone’s 500 billion dollars bailout fund created after the last debt crisis, could be used to heal the wounds left by the coronavirus pandemic.
The video conference which ran three hours over schedule concluded with the Italian Prime Minister issueing a tough ultimatum, giving the European Council just 10 days to return with an “adequate solution”.
In the interview, Macron asked whether the EU and the eurozone could only be defined as a financial institution.
“It could be a common debt, whatever its name, or an increase in the EU’s budget to support the countries most affected by this crisis,” he said. “The amount itself is not important, it’s the gesture that matters.”
Macron warned other leaders of “the death of Schengen” if they refuse to show solidarity throughout the crisis.
France and Germany have come under fire for initially declining to provide Rome with face masks and other equipment to help it handle the outbreak.
Italy turned to China, which sent 30 tonnes of medical supplies as well as nine doctors and nurses.
Press conference - Saturday ended with France reporting 319 deaths in the last 24 hours bringing the total number of deaths from the coronavirus in France has risen to 2,314 and 4,273 are in intensive care.
Following a press conference on Saturday evening organized with the Minister of Health and several specialists, France’s Prime Minister played the card of clarity and frankness, by affirming that the debate was just beginning against the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe warned this Saturday that "the first 15 days of April will be even more difficult than the last 15 days which have just passed" in the coronavirus crisis in France, because "the fight is just beginning" .
The Prime Minister welcomed "a collective effort", "first that of the carers, admirable, courageous, committed", "but also the remarkable effort of those who, in the second line, ensure the continuity of life of the nation ".
Meanwhile the Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced that
France has ordered "more than a billion" masks, in particular from China, to deal with the Covid-19 epidemic.
"A narrow and intensive air bridge between France and China has been set up in order to facilitate the entry of masks into our territory," he added, recalling that France needs 40 million masks per week. France, the minister said, produces 8 million masks per week. "Our reserves are not enough," he said. He also said that 30,000 additional daily tests for the virus would be carried out and that they are working with French manufacturers to produce specialised equipment needed in intensive care.
Man arrested in possession of medical masks - French police have arrested a man in possession of more than 23,000 face masks in Paris' plush 16th arrondissement. With France set to surpass 33,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, amid an acute shortage of masks for health workers, the suspect could face several years in jail.
The man arrested admitted he intended to sell them. He could face between six months to 5 years in prison.
Several people have been arrested in France for illegal dealing of protection masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
All face masks have been requisitioned by the French government to combat the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus and selling them has thus become illegal.
Here in the region two pharmacies in Nice have been taken to court after they were illegally selling sanitizer gel and masks allocated to medical staff to private individuals, making up to 200 euros a day.
Latest regional figures of coronavirus - Eight new deaths from coronavirus have been reported in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur.
A total of 56 patients have died in hospitals in the Paca region as a result of the Covid-19 infection.
The national agency Public Health France has published its daily count of new sharp cases of coronavirus.
To date, 3,817 people have tested positive for Covid-19 since February 28th in the PACA region with 833 new cases in 24 hours.
Among them, 952 were hospitalized (118 more than on Friday). Finally, the number of patients placed in intensive care rose on Saturday, in hospitals in the region, to 211 (23 more than the previous day).
The press release issued by the ARS and the regional prefecture also indicates that "the virus is actively circulating in our region" and that "it is therefore no longer possible to search contacts of positive people at Covid-19 systematically. "
A first death was also recorded in the Principality of Monaco this Saturday.
The first two patients from the Grand-Est region also arrived this Saturday in Nice and Cannes. Four more will follow by Monday, and will be hospitalized in the Alpes-Maritimes and Bouches-du-Rhône.
The mayor of Sanary-sur-mer in the Var has introduced increased security measures during the lockdown period.
Ferdinand Bernhard has limited people from going further than 10 meters from their home. Residents are also limited to buying one baguette.
Defending the measures the mayor said "Anyone who goes out everyday to buy their bread during the lockdown is not respecting the work of health workers".
French police receive bizarre lockdown questions - French police have said they have received some of the most bizarre question from the French public since the start of the confinement period from Can my husband spend the weekend with his mistress?" to "A stranger caressed my horse, is there a risk it is contaminated [with coronavirus]?
These are just some of the more absurd questions put to French police since the start of the country's coronavirus confinement.
They came via an emergency line — accessed by dialing 17 — that police say has seen a surge in calls over the last 10 days.
"People call for everything and nothing because they are bored," said a spokesman for the French gendarmerie.
"They just want to talk," he added.
France has been on a strict lockdown since Tuesday, 17 March, with people only allowed to leave their homes for food shopping, medical visits or exercise, if the latter is in proximity of where they live.
In Picardy, northern France, police stopped a man more than 50 kilometres from home, who told officers he "needed to buy a cassoulet [a meat and white bean casserole]".
Another left his house to wash the car. "Not really an emergency situation," said police.
"We have serious calls for information," said a policeman. "But also so-called abusive calls that border on stupidity."