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A Franco-Chinese Air Bridge To Help France Deal with Disease Pandemic

PARIS, March 30, 2020 (EIRNS)—Criticized by all sides, threatened with a lawsuit for negligence by various medical professional associations, the French government seems to be finally discovering the full extent of the healthcare crisis threatening France and the world. On March 28, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Health Minister Olivier Veran, and the Health Agency Director Jérôme Salomon organized a 90-minute internet briefing to reassure the French people and explain what they are doing to ensure that the government will secure millions of masks, and thousands more ICU beds with respiratory ventilators, in order to protect the population in the weeks ahead.

A very good thing is that President Emmanuel Macron, following the G7 videoconference on March 16, his phone conversation with Xi Jinping on March 23, and the March 26 G20 online summit, has strongly reinforced coordination with China to get greatly needed equipment, despite the opposition of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to such collaboration.

On March 28, Prime Minister Philippe announced that France has ordered 1 billion masks from various providers. First, an “air bridge” has been set up between France and China, for the delivery of 600 million face masks, and also 74 million FFP2 respiratory masks (equivalent to N95 masks), to cover the weekly need of 40 million. Four aircraft have been chartered which will deliver 10 million masks at a time, in addition to the 8 million weekly that France has begun to produce. Philippe also announced that France had worked to double the number of ICU beds to 10,000, and further expand that to 14-15,000, all equipped with respiratory ventilators bought from Germany. In the meantime, existing ICU patients in the center of the crisis—Alsace and greater Paris—are being transported to hospitals throughout France, by fast trains, helicopters and airplanes.

The key, however, is the reinforced Franco-Chinese cooperation, which displeases Le Monde, which reported:

“But the importance of the deal arranged by the French government goes well beyond specific humanitarian-type aid measures. The political contacts between the two countries have been numerous these last days. In the beginning of the week, Emmanuel Macron talked to President Xi Jinping. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also had an exchange with his counterpart Wang Yi, on March 26. Beijing acknowledged France’s opposition during the G7 videoconference the day before, to the incriminating statements proffered by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He wanted participants to use the expression ‘Wuhan virus’ [to refer to COVID-19] in the final communiqué.... According to Pompeo, to not acknowledge [China’s] responsibility would be equivalent to a passive complicity, a French source told Le Monde, which explains the extremely tense nature of the discussion behind the scenes.”

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