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Minister: 200 new Covid clusters in France 'under control'

France has 200 new "clusters" of Covid-19, but the situation is "under control" in mainland France, French health minister Olivier Véran has said, as the government prepares for a possible "second wave". 

In an interview with news source RTL France today (July 2), Mr Véran said that the country’s tracing and isolation measures meant that the "more than 200" new clusters that had been identified were “under control”.

Read more: France reports 216 Covid clusters, prompting health warning

A "cluster" is defined as a localised outbreak of the virus, which can be traced back to a specific source - for example, one person or one event.

Since deconfinement began on May 11, hundreds of new clusters have been reported across the country, but health authorities have repeatedly maintained that the outbreaks are “under control” and do not pose a wider risk.

Speaking today, the minister said: "For 10 consecutive weeks, the number of cases has dropped and all the indicators show that the situation is under control.

"There has been no community spread from a cluster, which means that areas that the virus is active have been confined to precise zones."

Only French Guiana is an exception, he said, where the "epidemic restart" had necessitated the closure and restrictions of certain public spaces.


Second wave plans

Mr Véran added: "We have prepared a plan in case of a rebound of the epidemic so that we can avoid, at all costs, having to impose general confinement [again]."

He said that this plan included protecting the most vulnerable in society, especially elderly care home residents; stepping up Covid-19 tests, and continuing to improve "contact tracing".

He also reminded people that these measures needed to be supported by continued good hygiene practices such as handwashing, wearing masks, and physical distancing.

Businesses must have mask stocks

The government has also asked that businesses have 10 weeks of face masks in stock at all times, in case a second wave of the epidemic occurs.

Junior economy minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher told the Senate on July 1: "We are preparing for la Rentrée (back to school in September) and there is a risk of the virus beginning to circulate again...We are asking businesses to prepare 10 weeks of stocks of masks - and I remind people that we now have many French producers."

She reminded people that many businesses in France had changed their production to making masks at the peak of the epidemic, and warned people to honour their previous mask orders, to ensure that these companies are not placed in difficulty as the epidemic begins to recede.

The announcements come as national health body Santé Publique France (SPF) played down the risk of a "second wave" of the virus epidemic, despite earlier predictions from scientific advisors warning that a second wave was "likely" and could be "worse than the first".

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