French doctors call for ban on talking on public transport to halt Covid-19 spread

23 January 2021, 13:30

French doctors have told people not to chat to each other on public transport.
French doctors have told people not to chat to each other on public transport. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

People in France are being told to “avoid talking” on public transport in order to slow the spread of Covid in the country.

France already has tough restrictions in place, with a curfew in place from 6pm to 6am and restaurants closed since October.

However, the French Academy of Doctors have issued new guidance saying people should "avoid talking or making phone calls" in subways, buses or anywhere in public where social distancing is not possible.

Masks have been mandatory on public transport in France since May, but travellers often loosen or remove them to talk on the phone.

The new guidance comes as other French experts are calling for a third national lockdown to be implemented, something the government has sought to avoid.

Read more: Hotel quarantine plan to be discussed by ministers - but how would it work?

Read more: Doctors call for gap between Pfizer vaccine doses to be halved to six weeks

On Thursday, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said the government were now asking people to use medical grade masks rather than homemade fabric face masks due to concerns about the more contagious strain of Covid first found in the UK.

However, schools remain open in France, with university students set to return from 25 January, despite rising case numbers and hospitalisations.

More than half of the country's intensive care beds are occupied by Covid patients, with more virus patients now in French hospitals than in October, when President Emmanuel Macron imposed a second lockdown.

Infections are also steadily rising, with at least 20,000 new cases recorded per day, suggesting hospital numbers will only climb further.

Read more: NERVTAG Chair: Lockdown measures may last until summer due to new variants

Read more: Wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained as protests sweep Russia

There have been 72,647 virus-related deaths in France, second only to the UK in Europe.

Protests were expected around France on Saturday against virus-related lay-offs and in support of those arrested for holding a techno rave party despite virus restrictions.