French culture minister hospitalised with Covid-19 as labour minister discharged

·2-min read

France’s culture minister has been hospitalised with Covid-19 just as the country's employment minister was discharged after receiving treatment for the virus, French media reported, amid a rapidly escalating third wave of the pandemic.

French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot has been taken to hospital after testing positive for Covid-19, but her situation is “stable and not worrisome”, a member of her entourage told AFP on Wednesday.

“Her doctor called for increased surveillance in the hospital for the next few days,” the source said.

Bachelot, 74, announced Saturday on Twitter that she had tested positive for the coronavirus “following respiratory symptoms”.

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.

According to French daily Libération, on Friday Bachelot attended the recording of a Paris Opera performance and met with singers backstage.

Earlier in the day, she presented singer Michel Sardou with the French Legion of Honour, and gave him a congratulatory hug, the paper reported.

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

The hospitalisation of the two ministers occured as the French hospital system is once again 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 the Bichat hospital in Paris.

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

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)