Since stringent social distancing measures were enacted on Tuesday, March 17, to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, transportation networks have been forced to operate on a reduced timetable. The national railway company SNCF has reduced the number of operating trains by 30 percent. The Parisian public operator RATP has also heavily cut services by 30 to 50 percent on most metro lines and tramways. Buses operate at 40 percent capacity on average in Paris. Similarly, the commuter network RER decreased its services by 40 percent. From more information please see RAPT and SNCF websites. Associated disruptions to public transportation are expected nationwide until the government eases domestic restrictions.
On Sunday, March 22, authorities announced the cancelation of all flights from mainland France to overseas territories, including Martinique, Guadeloupe, Mayotte, La Réunion, Saint-Martin, and Saint-Barthelemy, from Tuesday, March 23, until at least Wednesday, April 15. Travel between those islands will also be prohibited, unless for family reasons or health emergency, which must be proven to the relevant authorities before boarding any flight.
On Sunday, a "state of health emergency" was adopted by the France's parliament, providing a legal framework for the measures enacted regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and adding further sanctions for those who do not respect those measures.
French President Emmanuel Macron ordered individuals to remain at home for at least 15 days beginning on Tuesday, March 17, only allowing individuals to leave their homes for essential duties, including grocery shopping, medical assistance, and work (if not possible to work from home).
As of Tuesday, March 24, France has recorded over 22,302 cases of COVID-19, as well as 1100 associated deaths. Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.
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). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
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, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
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