The French government is asking all companies to keep at least 10 weeks worth of masks for their employees in case of a second wave of virus infections, according to The Associated Press. Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday on RTL radio, “It’s fundamental to respect this guidance. We saw it – our country was not sufficiently stocked with masks” during the first wave.
Shortages of all kinds of masks were a major problem in France when the virus raced across the country in March and April, and are central to several lawsuits launched against authorities. The government is encouraging companies to buy from French textile manufacturers who have a glut of masks after they switched to making them at government request earlier in the pandemic.
“There is a risk of new circulation of the virus,” secretary of state for the economy Agnes Pannier-Runacher told a parliamentary commission. “We are asking companies to plan for 10 weeks of mask stocks, with a little reminder that we now have French producers.”
France’s national health agency has confirmed more than 300 new virus clusters since the country started reopening May 11, and says about half have been contained. Overall France has reported the fifth-highest number of deaths worldwide from the virus, at 29,861 as of Wednesday, about half of them in nursing homes.
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