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14.03.2020 Europe

French education chiefs cancel school holiday camps

By Paul Myers - RFI
French education chiefs cancel school holiday camps
LISTEN MAR 14, 2020

Education bosses on Saturday called off school holiday camps for thousands of French children in the latest measure aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic.

"Due to what is happening in France at the moment, holiday camps and school-based activities are cancelled for the spring holidays," said education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer.

On Thursday, President Emmanuel Macron announced the closure of France's schools, creches and universities for the fortnight leading up to the two week Easter holidays which start on 11 April.

Macron said the aim was to give health services the chance to keep pace with the flow of patients.

"Our children and young people, according to our scientists, are the ones that spread the virus the quickest, even if they have no symptoms," said Macron.

He also urged employers to allow their staff to work from home wherever possible, and said that people over 70 years of age or have existing health conditions should stay inside as much as they can.

On Saturday the number of coronavirus cases worldwide passed the 150,000 mark. The disease was fatal in nearly 6,000 instances. On 11 March the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic nearly three months after it emerged in China.

Blanquer's announcement came as three more French MPs - one from Macron's ruling LREM party and two from Les Républicains - revealed they had tested positive for the virus.

One of them, Michel Herbillon, said he was confined to his home in Maisons-Alfort just outside Paris. "I've had a fever and a few aches," he added. 

Twelve MPs have been struck down since the coronvairus crisis hit France. Despite the spike in cases to 4,500, Macron said municipal elections would go ahead on 15 March.

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