French police have raided the homes of senior government and health officials as part of an investigation into their handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Health Minister Olivier Véran and the director of the national health agency, Jérôme Salomon, are among those whose properties were searched on Thursday, it comes after a court launched an inquiry earlier this year into the government’s handling of the pandemic, it has faced criticism over shortages of equipment and slow response times.
Prime Minister Jean Castex is also under investigation, French media report, as is his predecessor Edouard Philippe and Mr Véran’s predecessor Agnès Buzyn, the court launched the investigation in July, after members of the public, including doctors and relatives of victims, alleged that the government had been criminally negligent in its response to Covid-19. The special court hears cases of alleged wrongdoing by ministers and other government officials in the course of their duties, but for the claims to be substantiated, there would have to be evidence that officials knowingly failed to take obvious steps that would have saved lives, the police searches comes shortly after President Emmanuel Macron announced a night-time curfew in Paris and eight other cities to try to curb the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the country.
The measure which will apply from 21:00 to 06:00 will come into effect from Saturday and last for at least four weeks, a public health emergency has also been declared.