Macron predicts a “tough period” in the fight against the pandemic

The new quarantine measures will be announced at a press conference on Thursday with the participation of Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Veran and will take effect this weekend.

France will face a “difficult period” in the fight against coronavirus in the coming month, said French President Emmanuel Macron. This was announced on Wednesday, March 17, by the BFM TV channel, talking about the visit of the head of state to the local hospital in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.

“There will be a difficult period until mid-April,” the TV channel quoted the president as saying during his visit about the further development of the coronavirus situation.

At the same time, Macron did not voice the government’s plans to tighten antiquated measures or to preserve those already introduced. They are expected to be officially announced on Thursday 18 March.

According to the French press, at the moment, the option of introducing a self-isolation regime on weekends in the Ile-de-France metropolitan region and the northern Haute-de-France is considered as a priority, where 425 and 364 cases of infection are recorded per 100 thousand inhabitants, respectively.

According to the latest data from the authorities, since the beginning of the epidemic in France, more than 4 million cases of coronavirus infection have been recorded, more than 91 thousand people have become victims of the pandemic. The vaccination campaign has been running in France since the end of December 2020. To date, 5.5 million residents of the country have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, of which 2.3 million have already received both doses of the vaccine.

As reported, in the French city of Lannion, a new strain of COVID-19 was discovered, which experts classified as mutations subject to research. There are eight known cases of infection.

Italy and France have announced their readiness to resume vaccination of AstraZeneca

The authorities of Italy and France announced their readiness to resume the use of the coronavirus vaccine, which was created by the British-Swedish company AstraZeneca, in the vaccination campaigns of their countries. This is reported on the website of the Italian government.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi held a telephone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron. They discussed the suspension of the AstraZeneca drug in some European countries. “This is a temporary precautionary measure that will last until Thursday, March 18, until the analysis of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is completed,” the report said.

If the EMA gives a positive verdict on the drug, Italy, and France are ready to “immediately return to its use”.

20 European countries have decided to ban the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The authorities of Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, and Spain have partially or completely stopped vaccination. The cause was the occurrence of thrombosis in the vaccinated.

At the same time, the company stated about the safety of the vaccine. AstraZeneca explained that a detailed study of the health status of more than 17 million people vaccinated in the EU and the UK with the coronavirus drug showed no data on an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, or thrombocytopenia.

Macron advised the French to prepare for increased quarantine

French President Emmanuel Macron said that the country is “undoubtedly waiting for new solutions” in the near future regarding restrictions to combat the coronavirus epidemic.

According to Le Figaro., he said this at a press conference on March 15.

“Undoubtedly, we will make new decisions in the coming days,” he said, adding that the measures will be proportional to the situation in each region.

He did not directly answer the question about the likelihood of a lockdown in the Ile-de-France metropolitan region, saying that the authorities will be guided by data on the epidemic situation in certain cities and districts.

The expectation of a new strict quarantine in Ile-de-France has been “in the air” in recent days due to the growing burden on the medical system.

According to the latest data from the regional health agency, the incidence rate in Ile-de-France is 365 cases per 100,000 population (in the Paris suburb of Saint-Saint-Denis, even 464), while the national average is 220.

At the same time, there are still many restrictions imposed during the autumn wave of the epidemic. In Paris, for the seventh week, a daily curfew is in effect from 18-00 to 06-00, and restaurants, gyms, and cultural institutions have been closed for four months.

On Saturday, March 13, the region again began sending “heavy” patients for treatment in other parts of the country, where hospitals are less crowded.

The increase in the number of patients and the load on the intensive care unit is partly attributed to the spread of the mutated British strain in France. It already accounts for 67% of the detected cases.

Macron promised 1 million euros to strengthen cybersecurity after attacks on two hospitals

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged 1 million euros for a program to strengthen the cybersecurity of important networks after two hospitals in the country were hit by a ransomware attack in the past two weeks.

According to Le Monde, he said this at a video conference with representatives of the affected hospitals.

On 8 February, a hospital in the municipality of Dax in the south-west of the country, and on 15 February, a hospital in Villefranche — sur-Saone in the east, suffered an attack by an extortionist virus, which left their electronic systems almost completely paralyzed, including some medical equipment. As a result, some operations had to be postponed and patients were redirected to other institutions.

The National Agency for Information Systems Security, Anssi, says that it may take several weeks to restore the full functioning of the systems.

The Department for Combating Cybercrime of the Paris Prosecutor’s Office has opened proceedings on the facts of interference in the system and extortion committed by an organized group.

“What happened to you demonstrates our vulnerability and the need to accelerate investment in security,” Emmanuel Macron said, adding that these are particularly dangerous cases in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

As reported, in 2020, the number of cyberattacks on hospitals in France increased fourfold.

In Germany, in September 2020, a patient at a hospital in Dusseldorf died because her operation was postponed as a result of a cyberattack on the hospital.

Merkel and Macron sharply criticized the expulsion of European diplomats by Russia

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron condemned Russia’s decision to expel three European diplomats for allegedly participating in protests against Navalny.

They said this during a press conference following an online meeting on joint defense issues, Welt reports.

Merkel called the expulsion of diplomats unjustified, noting that this decision once again proves that Russia is increasingly moving away from the rule of law.

“During our conversation, we learned about the expulsion of German, Swedish and Polish diplomats from Moscow in connection with demonstrations in support of Navalny. We consider this expulsion unjustified, this is another manifestation of Russia’s departure from the principles of the rule of law,” the chancellor said.

The French President also condemned Russia’s decision.

“As for the Navalny case, I condemn with the greatest decisiveness what happened: the poisoning, and the sentence and today’s expulsion of diplomats by Russia,” Macron said.

We will remind, the head of the German Foreign Ministry Gaiko Maas promised a response to Russia if it does not reconsider its decision to expel European diplomats for allegedly participating in the protests against Navalny.

On February 5, Russia decided to expel three European diplomats on Friday, February 5, when EU High Representative Josep Borrell arrived in Moscow for a visit.

The Russian Federation protested in connection with the participation of diplomatic employees of the general consulates of Sweden and Poland in St. Petersburg and the German embassy in Moscow in protests on January 23. The diplomats were declared “persona non grata” and ordered to leave the territory of the Russian Federation in the near future.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry explained that the Swedish diplomat only watched the protests and called the decision of the Russian Federation absolutely unfounded.

The head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said that he learned about the intentions of the Russian Federation to expel European diplomats during negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.