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LifeStyle 74 News From The Papers

French lockdown extension likely as PM warns people off Easter vacation

RFI - 03/04/2020

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Thursday that the confinement measures put in place on 17 March will likely be extended beyond the current date of April 15th.

In a televised interview he said the French health system can withstand the coronavirus if people follow the measures. He warned people against leaving their homes for spring break.

The Easter school break started last Friday for the Paris region, and though schools are shuttered, many people had already planned vacations. Philippe warned people not to leave.

"There must not be any vacation departures in the coming days. All those who are breaking the rules will be sanctioned," he said.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has increased police checks on highways and train stations, though train service has been reduced to 6% of its normal capacity.

Education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer called on students to take a break from their online courses, which teachers have been struggling to put into place since schools closed on March 16th.

Covid-19 France and Bac: Written part cancelled

Connexion - 5 April 2020

Pupils who were due to sit the baccalauréat exam this year will not have to take any written exams, the Education Minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer has announced.

Instead they will be evaluated on their marks during the year under continuous assessment (contrôle continu).

The notes they received during confinement will not be taken into account but marks received for the early bac exams in Première (aged 17), notably for the French written and oral exams, will be taken into consideration.

Pupils in troisième (aged 15) who were due to sit the brevet exam will also be assessed on their marks of the year and will not have any written exams.

Distinctions/Honours (mention très bien, bien, and assez bien) can still be given by examiners.

For pupils in Première, all exams are cancelled apart from their oral exam of French, which is due to take place at the end of June or the beginning of July.

For the other exams, they will also be assessed on their marks during the first and second trimesters.

Final year students (terminale level) who do not sit and need to retake exams will be able to sit oral exams in July, as usual.

Those who do not pass the exam in June may, by decision of the board of examiners, be allowed to participate in a new session, in September, Mr Blanquer said.


Police to investigate terrorism link after 2 die in knife attack in southeast France

RFI - 05/04/2020

French police have arrested a third suspect, another Sudanese national, in an expanding terror probe, after a knife attack in the country's southeast left two people dead, investigators said on Sunday.

The attack in broad daylight Saturday in the riverside town of Romans-sur-Isere, took place with the country on lockdown to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Prosecutors have launched an investigation into "murder linked to a terrorist enterprise" and "association with terrorist wrongdoers" after the rampage through a string of shops in the town with a population of 35,000.

The alleged assailant, identified as Abdallah Ahmed-Osman -- a Sudanese refugee in his 30s who lives in the town -- was arrested without a fight.

Police later arrested a second Sudanese man at Ahmed-Osman's home -- "an acquaintance" of the alleged attacker -- and on Saturday night "a young Sudanese man from the same household" as the main suspect, the anti-terror prosecutor's office told AFP on Sunday.

Ahmed-Osman was found by police "on his knees on the pavement praying in Arabic" after the attack, said the national anti-terror prosecutor's office (PNAT).

According to witnesses cited by local radio station France Bleu Drome Ardeche, the attacker shouted "Allah Akbar!" (God is Greatest) as he stabbed his victims.

"Anyone who had the misfortune to find themselves in his way were attacked," the town's mayor Marie-Helene Thoraval said.

David Olivier Reverdy, from the National Police Alliance union, said Ahmed-Osman asked police to kill him when they came to arrest him.

The assailant first went into a tobacco shop where he attacked the owner and his wife, Thoraval said.

He then went to a butcher's shop where he seized another knife before heading to the town centre and attacking people outside a bakery.

"He took a knife, jumped over the counter, and stabbed a customer, then ran away," butcher shop owner Ludovic Breyton told French news agency AFP.

"My wife tried to help the victim but in vain."

Two were in intensive care, but stable, one was recovering, and two have been discharged from hospital, a source close to the investigation said Sunday.

Ahmed-Osman obtained refugee status in France in June 2017, according to investigators. He was previously unknown to the police or intelligence services.

The initial investigation has "brought to light a determined, murderous course likely to seriously disturb public order through intimidation or terror", PNAT said.

It said that during a search of the suspect's home, "handwritten documents with religious connotations were found in which the author complains in particular that he lives in a country of non-believers".

A source close to the probe said the alleged attacker had said that "he did not remember what happened". An initial interrogation was delayed as Ahmed-Osman was very agitated.


Number of coronavirus deaths in French hospitals falls for second consecutive day

The Local - 5 April 2020

France on Sunday reported 357 coronavirus deaths in hospital in 24 hours, lower than the previous two days, bringing the country's total death toll to 8,078.

The tally included 5,889 patients who died in hospital, and 2,189 people in old age homes and other medical facilities, a government statement said.

441 deaths were reported on Sunday. The record high was 588 on Friday.

Nearly 7,000 patients in intensive care

On Sunday April 5th there were 28,891 patients being treated for coronavirus in French hospitals, a rise of 748 compared to the previous day.

Some 6,948 of these patients were in a serious condition in intensive care.

A positive note… The daily rise in the number of people in intensive care continued to slow, as has been the trend in recent days.

France's Director General of Health said in a statement that the figure for those in intensive care was still rising, but at a decreasing rate.

Over 16,000 have left hospital to return home after recovering from the virus.


Extra chlorine in tap water in France due to Covid-19

Connexion - 5 April 2020

Over the past few weeks, as many businesses have closed due to the Covid-19 crisis, in some regions, overall water consumption has dropped.

As a result, more water has been sitting stagnant in pipes for longer than normal, prompting water suppliers in some areas to increase chlorine levels in the water, to prevent the increase of unhealthy microbes in the water supply.

This means that the water might taste slightly different, and some people may also report skin feeling dryer after showering or hand washing.

Not all regions of France are affected, but the phenomenon has been especially noted in the Grand Est region, reported La Voix du Nord.

In the commune of Sainte-Croix-aux-Mines, between Strasbourg and Mulhouse, a statement from local technical services management said: “Normally, we see 0.15mg/L at the exit of the disinfection station, whereas now, we should be at between 0.3 and 0.5mg/L.”

The water is still 100% safe to drink and use.

The chlorine has been added due to the drop in water consumption, not because there is a risk from Covid-19 itself.

National water centre Le Centre d’Information de l’Eau has also said: “Several methods of disinfection - such as chlorination - eliminate all viruses, including coronavirus.”

As a result, tap water remains safe to drink in France, and it is not necessary to use bottled water. If you are able to taste the higher chlorine levels, you can get rid of the taste by leaving tap water in a jug or container for an hour or two before drinking.

That’s probably a good practice all the time, to avoid the ill effects to the body of consuming chlorinated water.

US bought France-bound face masks for CASH from China – French official to RT

RT - 1 Apr, 2020 20:29

RT reports that the US bought out a planeload of Chinese-made face masks right on the tarmac, just as a planeload of the much needed protective gear was about to be flown to France, the head of a French region told RT.

Facing shortages of protective equipment amid the coronavirus outbreak, France has turned to China to procure the much-needed face masks.

But last week, the Americans, who are trying to procure any available masks, is disrupting deliveries to other nations, according to a report by French daily Liberation.

“The US pays double and in cash, even before seeing the goods,” an anonymous source told the newspaper.

The US presently has the highest number of cases, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the world. But with a population of 330 million, the ratio of sick to well people in the US is still far below France, Spain and especially Italy.


Face masks - countries shifting their stance

AFP - 5 April 2020

In France, the law forbids the wearing of burkas, balaclavas and other full face coverings, which prevent security cameras from identifying people. Yet the French government has now begun encouraging people to wear face masks to protect against the coronavirus.

The French Academy of Medicine said on Friday that masks should be made obligatory for everyone leaving their homes during the lockdown.

Its recommendation came after much online anger when television presenter Marina Carrere d'Encausse, herself a doctor, said that the French government line, that masks were only useful for carriers of the disease, was a "lie told for the good cause".

The country's response to the epidemic has been dogged by reports of shortages of masks, and other protective equipment for front line medical care personnel such as nurses and doctors.

French health chiefs have repeatedly urged the French public not to wear masks unless they were health workers or suffering from symptoms themselves.

Director General of Health Jérôme Salomon has argued that those wearing masks often think they have sufficient protection from getting the virus, and then forget more important basic hygiene requirements such as washing hands.

But asked on Friday about apparent mixed messages over the course of the crisis, concerning whether people should wear sanitary masks, health chief Jérôme Salomon said they could help, but gave no indication whether this would be obligatory.

"In France, as in Europe, we don't have the tradition of wearing the mask. There is a tradition in Asia."

"These masks allow you to protect yourself. If there is access to masks we encourage the public to wear masks if they desire," he said.

Masks are already compulsory in the Czech Republic and Slovenia and anyone going into a supermarket or food store in Austria has to wear one.

In the United States, President Donald Trump on Friday urged all Americans to wear a mask when they leave home.

Seen from Asia, where wearing masks during the flu season is normal, Western reluctance seemed utterly baffling.

There is a "definite shift in the position of the US" towards wearing masks, Professor K.K. Cheng, a public health specialist at Birmingham University in Britain, told AFP.

The expert, a strong advocate of their use, said the WHO was reviewing its guidance.

Experts generally agree that surgical masks are not a foolproof way to prevent coronavirus infection.

But people infected with the virus are advised to wear them to stop the spread to others, with evidence that transmission can happen before a person knows they are sick.

Another argument in their favor is the theory -- not yet scientifically proven -- that the virus can be transmitted through the air.

'Spread through speaking'

Dr Anthony Fauci, who is leading the US government's response, has backed research that found it can be suspended in ultrafine mist formed when people exhale. Research indicates "the virus can actually be spread even when people just speak as opposed to coughing and sneezing," Fauci told Fox News.

Germany's Koch Institute head Lothar Wieler said masks "could help to protect others, but they don't help protect the wearer themselves.

"That is very important to understand," he added.

"You wear a mask to reduce droplets from one's own respiratory tract. It only works if everyone wears them, and if everyone does, you only need a very basic mask.

"A piece of tissue can block it. It's not perfect, but it's much better than nothing," he told AFP.

In an updated entry dated April 1st, the RKI website states: "Some infected people do not become ill at all (asymptomatic infection), but could still pass it on to others.

"Therefore, the wearing of temporary masks by people entering public places where the safety distance cannot be maintained, e.g. public transport, grocery stores or even at the workplace, could help to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2."

But The World Health Organization is sticking by its initial advice, fearful that masks could give the public "a false sense of security" that would lead to people being more casual about social distancing and hand washing.


That’s LifeStyle 74 News From The Papers on Monday, April 6th


LifeStyle 74 Weather

Beautiful Spring weather this week.

Sunny and mild. Maximum 20 to 22 C. 0 at 2700 meters.

Sunny! Some passing clouds in the afternoon near the Jura. Minimum temp at dawn 3 to 5 C. Max in the afternoon 20 to 23. 0 at 2600 meters.

Wednesday, Thursday & Friday
Fair weather. Sunny. Max Temps 21 to 23.

That’s LifeStyle 74 Weather.


French Attestation Required Whenever Leaving Home

France is now in lock down - You are required to stay at home - You can go out only if you carry an attestation

RFI & LifeStyle 74 - 17 March 2020

France is now in a total lock down. Stores and most businesses are closed. City streets are largely empty both of people and cars.

The government has ordered that every person in France shall remain at his/her place of residence, or at a hotel room, during the next two weeks.

A special attestation must be filled out and signed each time a person goes out for any one of a limited number of specific reasons. If caught out without the attestation, police will issue a fine ranging from 135 to 375 euros. And there are 100,000 police controlling the streets.

The same fine applies for not respecting a distance of at least one meter between people in the street, in a store or anywhere outside of your home.

Before leaving home, each person must sign an “attestation” stating the exact reason for being in the street. Carry it with you at all times.

These forms can be downloaded from an official government website:

Attestation de sortie : téléchargez l'attestation de déplacement


How do I prove my reason for being out?

At present no proof is required, you self-certify and sign the 'declaration on your honour' that the reason you are giving is the truth.

The French government is clearly hoping they can rely on people to follow the rules, and Macron has appealed to the nation's solidarité in order to protect the most vulnerable - the elderly and those with serious underlying health conditions.

Your ARE permitted to leave home for the following reasons:

- going to work when it’s not possible to work remotely on the web from home.

- Professional travel when it cannot be postponed.

- going to the grocery store or a limited number of authorized businesses.

- medical appointments or other health related reasons

- family reasons, to assist vulnerable persons or to a crèche or child minder

- to get physical exercise on an individual basis, near one’s residence.

- moving around near home in connection with caring for animals and their needs.


What services can remain open in France

Connexion - 16 March 2020

The full list of locations permitted to stay open was published by national decree on March 15. These places are permitted to stay “open to the public for the stated activities”.

Food and drink

  • Retail sale of frozen food products
  • General food trade
  • Convenience stores
  • Supermarkets
  • Hypermarkets
  • Specialist fruit and vegetable shops (grocer)
  • Specialist meat and meat products shops (butcher)
  • Specialist fish, crustaceans and molluscs shops (fishmonger)
  • Specialist bread, pastry and confectionery shops (bakery)
  • Retail sale of beverages
  • Other specialist food shops
  • Retail sale of pet food and pet supplies
  • Food retailing on stalls and markets
  • Sale by vending machines and other retail sale not in stores, stalls or markets

Food banks and food charities

  • Food distribution by charitable associations

Petrol stations and garages

  • Maintenance and repair of motor vehicles, agricultural vehicles, machinery and equipment
  • Trade in automotive equipment
  • Sale and repair of motorcycles and cycles
  • Retail sale of fuel in specialized stores

Media, technology and computers

  • Retail sale of newspapers and stationery in specialized stores
  • Retail sale of information and communication equipment in specialized stores
  • Retail sale of computers, peripheral units and software in specialized stores
  • Retail sale of telecommunications equipment in specialized stores
  • Repair of computers and personal and household goods
  • Repair of computers and communication equipment
  • Repair of computers and peripheral equipment
  • Repair of communication equipment

Pharmacies and medical

  • Retail sale of pharmaceutical products in specialized stores
  • Retail sale of medical and orthopedic articles in specialized stores

Laundry and dry cleaning

  • Laundry and dry-cleaning services
  • Wholesale laundry and dry cleaning
  • Retail laundry and dry cleaning

Hotels and accommodation

  • Hotels and similar accommodation
  • Tourist and other short-term accommodation where it constitutes a regular place of residence for the persons living there
  • Campgrounds and parks for caravans or recreational vehicles where they are a regular place of residence for the persons living there

Funeral services

  • Funeral services and funeral offices

Banks, finance, insurance and employment

  • Activities of labour placement agencies
  • Activities of temporary employment agencies
  • Financial and insurance activities

Farming, construction and equipment stores

  • Farm suppliers
  • Retail sale of building materials, hardware, paints and glass in specialised stores
  • Rental and leasing of other machinery, equipment and property
  • Rental and leasing of agricultural machinery and equipment
  • Rental and leasing of construction machinery and equipment


Coronavirus Situation in Switzerland

SwissInfo.com - 16 March 2020

Switzerland Also on Lockdown - Residents Urged to Remain At Home

  • On Monday, the government declared an “extraordinary situation” , instituting a ban on all private and public events and closing bars, restaurants, sports and cultural spaces until April 19; only businesses providing essential goods – such as grocery stores, bakeries and pharmacies – remain open. Schools are closed nationwide until April 19.
  • The government has also decided to introduce border checks with Germany, France and Austria. Only Swiss citizens, Swiss residents and people traveling to Switzerland for business are allowed to enter the country.
  • The Swiss government had previously imposed sweeping measures on March 13, including closing schools across the country until at least April 4 (some cantons have longer closures until April 30) and pledging CHF10 billion to help the economy.
  • Up to 8,000 members of the military will be mobilized to help, representing the largest Swiss army mobilization since World War II.
  • The focus has now shifted to protecting the old and unwell. The health authorities no longer trace every Covid-19 case systematically.
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