France’s prime minister is urging his compatriots to wear masks more but insisted Wednesday that rising coronavirus infections across the country are “nothing to panic about” and that it’s time for people to get back to work and school and to “cultivating themselves.”
France is now reporting more than 25 positive virus tests per 100,000 people, up from five per 100,000 a month ago. Neighboring countries are requiring quarantines for visitors from parts or all of France.
There has also been a small but steady uptick in the number of COVID-19 in intensive care, though the situation is far from the crisis levels facing French hospitals in March and April.
“We are not letting down our guard. The virus is still there,” Prime Minister Jean Castex said on France-Inter radio Wednesday.
While he acknowledged that wearing a mask all the time is “a little annoying,” Castex urged people protesting mask requirements “to think of others, hospital workers, medical workers, vulnerable people. …It’s not because you feel invincible that you can go contaminate others.”
Despite confirmed virus cases rising, the prime minister insisted that France needs to return to work and school and avoid “falling into an economic and social crisis that would be much more dangerous than the health crisis.”
He also urged a careful return to cultural venues, pledging 2 billion euros for the French culture industry to help it survive a plunge in revenues for museums, movie theaters and other sites. The money will be part of a 100 billion-euro ($118 billion) economic recovery package to be unveiled next week.
More than 30,000 people with the virus have died in France.