Coronavirus: in France, Olivier Véran tries to put an end to the controversy over masks

Olivier Véran, Minister of Health, has announced the order of 250 million surgical masks abroad. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

Text by: RFI Follow

Has France had a problem with the management of surgical masks and FFP2? Did the government make a mistake? A sign of feverishness, the executive has in any case sought to respond once again to the shortage trials from the medical community and then from the opposition.


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This Saturday, March 21, the Minister of Health was sent to the front, solemnly speaking to announce the order for 250 million surgical masks and FFP2. " You know, faced with an epidemic of such magnitude, it could be easy to mobilize our energy on the search for responsibility ," explained Olivier Véran.

It was a demining operation for the Minister of Health. Calmly, Olivier Véran responded to the criticisms. The lack of masks comes from decisions made several years ago, he recognized before ensuring that this lack was quickly taken into account and announcing mass manufacturing on French soil as well as massive orders abroad, supporting figures.

" I can tell you that we have already signed several orders for more than 250 million masks which are being delivered gradually and will be delivered in the coming weeks . "

Follow WHO recommendations

The Minister of Health has tried to reassure and promises total transparency. He also took the opportunity to announce an evolution in the doctrine of screening tests: “ Last Monday, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO (World Health Organization), delivered this simple message : test, test, test. France must therefore now follow this path. The doctrine of rational and reasoned use of tests must evolve . "

A way, there too, to respond to those, more and more numerous, who have been wondering for a few days about the few screening tests carried out in France since the beginning of the epidemic.

In the National Assembly, the national union, but with some snags

The debates have lasted in the National Assembly since this Saturday March 21 in the morning. The deputies and the government discuss the aspect of reforms implementing the health emergency and exceptional measures to support businesses, debates under the sign of the national union, but with an opposition which is vigilant.

" I want to say it in very clear terms : we must take action that the situation requires and the government in these circumstances needs Parliament. "

For Edouard Philippe, the coronavirus crisis calls for exceptional measures , but also for exceptional harmony between Parliament and the government. The Prime Minister clarified that the government " needs the demands of Parliament ".

In front of the Prime Minister, stood a hemicycle more than sparse, protective measures required. Only about twenty deputies were present, including the LR deputy for the Haut-Rhin, Raphaël Schellenberger, who reminds us that for the right, the time has come for national union.

" You will find us, Mr. Prime Minister, by your side to give you the means to fight against this epidemic, because the French deserve our mobilization, " he said.

Opposition questions

On the other side of the hemicycle, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the Insoumis, promised opposition without acrimony, but opposition. " We are establishing a state of health emergency, why not ," he said. In our view, there was no legal vacuum, why not, we agree to help you do it. But why did you come up with this idea of ​​postponing from 12 days to a month the period within which you will enter the meetings? Meetings are not too much! "

Questions also exist on the socialist side where we warn, for example, against the writing of very broad, even too broad, prescriptions.

In this coronavirus crisis when we are dependent on telephone networks and social networks in the broad sense to continue to find each other and communicate at least virtually, the question of the electricity essential for this communication arises. In France, more than 70% of our electricity is nuclear, but EDF employees are not immune to Covid-19.

EDF has had a “pandemic plan” since 2000, which was activated in 2009 and then in 2013, during the H1N1 and SARS crises, whose objective is to guarantee the safety of employees while now generating electricity.

This plan provides for a different organization of shift changes, and the management of reactors whose operation can be ensured for up to 12 weeks with 25% of the workforce absent, or even for 2 to 3 weeks with 40% absent.

Currently, a business continuity plan has been launched for the entire group, but only, the Flamanville power plant activated the pandemic plan on March 16, due to the large number of contaminated employees and cases suspects in the area. The ongoing maintenance of 2 reactors has therefore been stopped, and out of 800 employees, 100 are present on site today. EDF states that it does not use any subcontractor to replace EDF agents for operating the reactors.

Nevertheless, the Sortir du Nucléaire network wonders: knowing that Covid-19 primarily affects older people, and therefore the most experienced, a significant reduction in staff could bring about significant disorganization in this high-risk sector.

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  • Coronavirus
  • Health and Medicine
  • Nuclear

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