France sends in RIOT POLICE to enforce mask-wearing in Marseille amid spike in new Covid-19 cases


17-08-20 09:36:00,

The French government has sent 130 riot officers to help enforce face mask wearing rules in the southern city of Marseille as the nation sees a rise in new coronavirus cases amid increased resistance to restrictions.

More than a hundred officers from a special riot police unit, the CRS, will now patrol Marseille after the local authorities expanded requirements on wearing face masks, government spokesman Gabriel Attal told French media.

Face masks are mandatory in all public indoor spaces, as well as on public transport, under the rules introduced by the government. Local authorities could expand the measures further if necessary.

Several major cities, including Paris, Toulouse, and Lille, have introduced such measures for all crowded spaces – both indoor and outdoor – and now Marseille has followed suit by making masks mandatory at farmers’ markets and in several neighborhoods.

The government maintains responsible behavior by citizens can do much more to stem the epidemic than the nation’s police forces. “We cannot put a policeman behind every French,” Attal said. “It is a matter of good citizenship and responsibility: we should fear the fines less than we fear the virus.”

However, some are so tired of – or resistant to – Covid-linked restrictions that attempts to encourage compliance with the mask-wearing rules have been met with violence in several cases in recent months.

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A bus driver was severely beaten in Bayonne and eventually succumbed to his wounds after refusing to allow passengers to board without masks in July. Last week, a nurse was attacked in Seine-Saint-Denis, just north of Paris, after asking two teenagers to wear masks on public transport.

The developments come as the nation records its highest numbers of new Covid cases since the lockdown rules were relaxed in mid-May. On Saturday, 3,300 people were diagnosed with coronavirus infection nationwide, while on Sunday, just over 3,000 new cases were registered, according to the Health Ministry.

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France ordered to pay up after epilepsy drug manufactured by coronavirus vaccine firm Sanofi caused birth defects


03-07-20 06:33:00,

A French court has ordered the state to compensate three families whose children suffered birth defects due to the anti-epilepsy medication Dépakine. The drugmaker, Sanofi, is currently racing to certify a vaccine for Covid-19.

Dépakine is the brand name for sodium valproate, an ingredient used in the treatment of epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and migraines. However, it is known to cause severe birth defects if administered to pregnant women, with the drug linked to spina bifida, cleft palate, learning difficulties, and autism. Introduced in 1967, Dépakine is now available in its generic form, and in more than five decades on the market, has been blamed by French researchers for defects in between 2,150 and 4,100 children.

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On Tuesday, a court in Paris ordered the state to hand over €200,000 ($225,000), €157,000 ($176,000), and €20,000 ($23,000) respectively to the families of the three victims, now aged between 11 and 35. According to the judgment, French health authorities failed to inform doctors and patients of Dépakine’s link to birth defects.

Sanofi was also blamed for its role in the scandal, with the court deeming the leaflet enclosed with the drug gave insufficient warning of the risks it presented.

The ruling compounds a dismal week for Sanofi, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms by revenue. The company announced last Friday that it would cut 1,680 jobs in Europe, with the firings affecting mainly its blue-collar workers.

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However, the company has pressed ahead with its plans to bring to market a vaccine for the Covid-19 coronavirus. Sanofi said a week earlier that it will pump more than $500 million ($562 million) into a “state of the art” vaccine plant near Lyons, then announced that it expects its coronavirus vaccine, developed with British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline, to be approved early next year.

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France, not Turkey, plays ‘dangerous game’ in Libya by sending it into chaos – Ankara


23-06-20 03:49:00,

Turkey has responded to President Emmanuel Macron’s claim that Ankara is dangerously shattering peace in Libya, saying in a tit-for-tat statement that it is France pulling the war-torn country into further chaos.

Paris, which supported “illegitimate structures for years” on Libyan soil is a major actor playing “the dangerous game” there, the Turkish Foreign Ministry proclaimed on Tuesday.

Advising Emmanuel Macron “to activate his common sense,” the ministry noted that the French had been supporting General Khalifa Haftar, who leads the Libyan National Army (LNA), for quite a long time.

Macron accuses Turkey of playing ‘dangerous game’ in Libya, calls its standoff with French ship example of NATO ‘brain death’ 

The people of Libya “will never forget the damage France has inflicted on this country in line with its selfish interests and collaborators’ goals,” the fiery statement continued.

Striking a lighter tone, Ankara called on Paris to stop risking “the security and future of Libya, Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean” and start acting “on the basis of our friendship and allied relations.”

One day prior to Turkey’s rebuke, French President Macron said his country will not stand back and watch Ankara “playing a dangerous game in Libya.”

Macron insisted that Turkish involvement runs contrary to the outcomes of the 2020 Berlin conference, which endorsed a major ceasefire between Haftar’s LNA and the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).

Tripoli-based GNA forces, benefiting from Turkey’s sizable military support, gained the upper hand in the war with its rival LNA, backed by Egypt and a host of other nations. Recently, Paris accused Turkey of breaking an international arms embargo by funneling troops and equipment into the North African country.

The spat between the two NATO allies escalated last week after a French Navy ship tried to interdict a freighter suspected of smuggling arms into Libya. The vessel, guarded by a pair of Turkish frigates, refused to report its route while the escort ships highlighted the French one with their radars.

NATO then vowed to inquire into the mid-sea standoff, sure to produce more cracks in the relationships within the military alliance.

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France to launch its contact-tracing app this weekend after lawmakers’ approval


29-05-20 06:53:00,

The French government is preparing a weekend launch of its contact-tracing app, a tool developed independently of the more widely used Apple/Google platform.

The plan for the ‘StopCovid’ app in France had led to a standoff with Apple, which had refused French officials’ request to change the settings to let their app access Bluetooth in the background, so it is always switched on.

France and Britain have decided to keep contact data in a central database, arguing this would make it easier for authorities to track suspected coronavirus cases. However, Apple and Google want data to be stored on the phones themselves, out of government reach, saying this would better protect the privacy of users, Reuters said.

The government’s project was approved by the lower house of parliament on Wednesday. It was moved to the upper house Senate, whose vote is not binding.

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France BANS hydroxychloroquine as study says medicine Trump took makes death from Covid-19 more likely


27-05-20 06:07:00,

France has clamped down on the much-talked about drug that many have taken against Covid-19, including US President Donald Trump. A new study showed that the treatment increases the risk of death from the virus.

The French government has revoked its decree authorizing the prescription of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for treating Covid-19 patients, with the exception of clinical trials. The decision came after the government’s advisory body, the High Council of Public Health (HCPS), and the National Agency for Medicines and Health Products Safety (ANSM) both gave unfavorable opinions on the drug.

The HCPS recommended against using hydroxychloroquine outside of clinical trials, regardless of whether the patients took the drug alone or in combination with antibiotics. The ANSM, in turn, initiated a procedure to suspend clinical trials involving the use of HCQ “as a precaution.”

The drug has become a buzzword in the media as many place high hopes on finding a cure for the novel coronavirus. HCQ became increasingly popular in France to fight Covid-19 symptoms, as its prescription rate jumped by 7,000 percent in some parts of the country, according to local media.

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However, a recent study published in the Lancet journal was “unable to confirm a benefit” of taking hydroxychloroquine to battle the virus after researchers analyzed 96,032 hospitalized Covid-19 patients, 3,016 of whom took HCQ, and 6,221 took HCQ with a macrolide antibiotic. Furthermore, hydroxychloroquine was “associated” with increased risks of “significant occurrence” of ventricular arrhythmias and in-hospital death with Covid-19, the study noted.

The study in the Lancet prompted French Health Minister Olivier Veran to launch a review of the use of HCQ, and the World Health Organization to halt the use of the drug in its global trials of the experiential Covid-19 treatment.

Hydroxychloroquine has been repeatedly touted by Trump as a prospective remedy against Covid-19. The US president said he had been taking HCQ “every day” as a prophylactic for about two weeks.

Trump’s promotion of the drug drew criticism from experts and political opponents,

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