French minister hospitalised with COVID-19, a second is discharged

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s culture minister has been hospitalized with COVID-19 but its employment minister has been discharged after receiving treatment over the past few days, amid a rapidly escalating third wave of the pandemic.

Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot, 74, will remain under surveillance for a few days, her ministry said in a statement.

“Her condition is stable, there is no reason for worry,” the ministry said.

The news came as Employment Minister Elizabeth Borne, 59, tweeted that she had left hospital. She was hospitalised last Friday, eight days after testing positive for COVID-19.

A labour ministry spokesman had told Reuters on Tuesday evening that Borne was doing well after feeling very weak last week.

She had been in touch with her staff and had been involved in discussions about tighter home working regulations, he said.

President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for COVID-19 in December and had to self-isolate. At least eight ministers in his centrist government, including Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent months.

The hospitalisation of the two ministers has come as the French hospital system again comes under severe strain due to an influx of COVID-19 patients.

There are close to 27,000 people with COVID-19 in French hospitals and on Tuesday the number of people in intensive care with the disease rose to a four-month high of 4,634, compared to nearly 5,000 during the second lockdown in November and more than 7,000 in April 2020.

“Whatever happens, the coming month will be infernal. We’ve hit a wall. Restrictive measures should have been taken earlier,” said Jean-François Timsit, head of intensive care units at Bichat hospital in Paris.

Paris and a large part of northern France, as well as the area around Nice on the Mediterranean, went into a third lockdown last weekend as the government tries to slow the spread of the virus.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Benoit Van Overstraeten and Caroline Pailliez; Writing by GV De Clercq; Editing by Gareth Jones

Image: FILE PHOTO: French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot speaks during a press conference in Paris, France January 14, 2021, on French government’s current strategy for the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Thomas Coex/Pool via REUTERS/

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