French lack confidence in President Macron's virus effort, poll shows

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PARIS (BLOOMBERG) – A majority of French people lack confidence in the government’s ability to deal effectively with the coronavirus pandemic or manage the vaccination campaign, even after President Emmanuel Macron accelerated efforts to distribute the shots, according to a survey in newspaper Journal du Dimanche.

The percentage of those lacking confidence in the management of the crisis stood at 62 per cent, according to the survey by Ifop for the newspaper, little changed from readings earlier this month and in December.

The poll of 1,028 people conducted last Thursday and Friday found that 63 per cent doubted the handling of the inoculation effort.

Mr Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex have come under criticism for the slow start to vaccinations since they began on Dec 27. Government officials vowed to speed up the process and said on Saturday (Jan 9) that 100,000 people will have been vaccinated by the end of the weekend.

“We want to go quickly; we wanted first to do things safely, and to be serious,” Mr Castex said on Saturday in televised remarks to reporters during a visit to a vaccination centre in Tarbes, south-west France.

France reported 20,177 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, while the number of deaths increased by 171 to 67,599, according to statistics from the national health agency. While the government has been aiming to bring the number of daily new cases to below 5,000, there has been around four times that number on most days in January, prompting officials to put more of the nation under an earlier curfew.

The virus is circulating at an elevated level, with an average of 18,000 new cases daily, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Sunday in an interview with Cnews television and Europe1 radio.

Asked whether France will have to resort to a nationwide lockdown for the third time since the outbreak began, he said that case numbers are still growing slowly, unlike in other European countries such as Britain and Germany.

“If we find that there’s again a strong growth in the epidemic, with pressure on the health system, obviously that will have consequences for the decisions we make,” he said.

“We’ve always taken and will continue to take the steps necessary, at the moment when it’s necessary to take them, to protect the health of the French.”

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