Speaking to the French channel BFM TV on Wednesday, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo described the “very serious situation” in which the French capital finds itself, with nearly 1,500 people in intensive care in Ile-de-France. By comparison, that figure is almost three times the number of patients on mechanical ventilation in the whole of the UK.
Ahead of President Emmanuel Macron’s much-awaited speech, scheduled for 8pm on Wednesday (6pm GMT), Hidalgo called for schools to be closed. “I think the schools should be closed. … It’s a very big disorganization. In Paris, we have about 20,000 students who are not in class, either because they are sick or because the classes are closed,” the mayor stated.
Hidalgo said 850 classes were not operating as of Wednesday, a considerable increase on the previous week, and that healthcare services in the capital were operating beyond maximum capacity.
The mayor’s comments on Wednesday come as France’s battle with Covid-19 intensifies. The health service registered more than 30,000 new infections on Tuesday – more than double the same day last week – while, on Monday, the number of patients in intensive care (4,974) surpassed the peak of the second wave in November.
New measures were brought in on March 20, covering approximately one third of the population, but pressure is mounting to reinstate tougher restrictions. The current measures do not prevent people from leaving their homes, and schools remain open as of the time of writing.
Prime Minister Jean Castex will make a statement in parliament on Thursday regarding “the evolution of the health situation,” after a debate and vote, following the president’s address on Wednesday evening.