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French Police Raid Ministers Homes in COVID-19 Inquiry

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 yesterday.

The raids came 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 Agnes Buzyn.

The prime minister and Mr Véran have been at the forefront of France’s new policy of imposing night-time curfews in nine cities, including Paris, from Saturday, which will be enforced by 12,000 police.

“This means at 21:00 everyone must be at home and, without exception, every place, business or public service open to the public will be shut,” Mr Castex said yesterday.

In July, the court launched the inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic after members of the public, including doctors and relatives of victims, alleged that it 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.

At a news conference yesterday, Prime Minister Castex said he had “absolute” confidence in both Mr Véran and Mr Salomon.

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