Police on Thursday searched the homes of several top French government officials, including a former prime minister, as part of an investigation into the French government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The searches were conducted early in the morning, one day after President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronFrench forces kill Islamic State in Sahara leader, Macron says Afghanistan withdrawal foments European distrust of America French 'New Wave' star Jean-Paul Belmondo dies MORE announced a new curfew for nine major French cities to help curb the recent rise in cases across Europe. The 9 p.m. curfew will begin Saturday and affect nearly a third of France’s population.
Among those whose homes were searched include former prime minister Edouard Philippe, current health minister Olivier Veran, former health minister Agnes Buzyn and the head of national health services Jerome Salomon. The Associated Press reported that Veran’s office was also searched.
A special French court ordered an investigation into the government’s handling of the pandemic after COVID-19 patients, doctors and law enforcement have filed nearly 100 complaints regarding shortages of masks and equipment.
Prime Minister Jean Castex did not comment on the investigation, but said he had total confidence in Veran.
“Our compatriots thought this health crisis was behind us. But we can’t live normally again as long as the virus is here,” said Castex.
France has reentered a state of national health emergency as more than 120,000 cases were confirmed over the past week. The new investigation may exacerbate already growing mistrust in the government among the French people.
About 1,000 nurses, doctors and public hospital staff marched through Paris on Thursday demanding more investment, more staffing and higher pay. Multiple doctors have accused the French government of lying or misleading the public when they said masks were not necessary in public, despite struggling to gather enough supplies. The government has stated that its recommendations were consistent with the limited information on the coronavirus that was available at the time.