French authorities search homes of top officials in probe into pandemic response shortcomings

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    French police stand guard in front of the police station of Champigny-sur-Marne, outside Paris, on Oct. 11. (Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)

    PARIS — French authorities searched the homes of several prominent politicians and government ministers on Thursday, as part of a judicial inquiry into the French government’s management of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Early Thursday, the homes of French Health Minister Olivier Véran, Deputy Health Minister Jérôme Salomon, former prime minister Édouard Philippe and former health minister Agnès Buzyn were all searched.

    The probes come after doctors, aid workers and others filed dozens of formal complaints over the government’s handling of the pandemic, notably regarding a lack of available equipment, including masks. A French court then opened a formal inquiry in July.

    The searches were expected, but they attracted extra attention because they came the morning after President Emmanuel Macron ordered a 9 p.m. curfew in Paris and other major cities to curb a rapid resurgence of the coronavirus.

    Some former officials were included in the probe because they were still in charge at the beginning of the pandemic response in early 2020; Véran, the current health minister, assumed his post in February.

    Salomon, another top health official, had been due to speak to France’s BFM TV on Thursday morning in a routine interview but canceled because of “personal reasons,” the network said, according to French media reports.

    The Washington Post

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