French authorities announced that face masks will be mandatory in all outdoor areas in Toulouse as of Friday, August 21, in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Toulouse is the first city in the country to make masks mandatory in all outdoor areas. Masks will be required to be worn by anyone aged 11 and over and between the hours of 07:00 and 03:00 (local time). Masks were already compulsory in certain areas of Toulouse, including on the banks of the river Garonne. Toulouse is classified as an active zone, meaning that COVID-19 is circulating in the city.
Face masks were already mandatory in public indoor spaces and on public transport nationwide. Many French towns and cities, including in the capital Paris, have made masks obligatory in certain outdoor areas also. Those who are found to be in breach of the measure may be fined up to 135 EUR (154 USD). For people working in communal offices, the government has said employers will have to judge the need for mask-wearing on a case-by-case basis.
As of August 21, there have been 253,198 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in France with 30,350 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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