France to Convene Urgent Meetings Amid Rising Bedbug Cases, Acknowledging Public Health Concerns.
The French government announced on Tuesday its plans to hold emergency discussions this week to address the escalating reports of bedbug infestations, recognizing the issue as a potential major public health crisis. What was once a topic of potential ridicule has transformed into a contentious political matter in France, with alarmed citizens reporting sightings of bedbugs in various public spaces, including trains, the Paris metro, and cinemas.
As the country hosts the Rugby World Cup and prepares for the influx of athletes and fans for the 2024 Olympics, concerns over the spread of bedbugs have intensified. Two schools—one in Marseille and another in Villefranche-sur-Saone outside Lyon—have been temporarily closed due to bedbug infestations, prompting local authorities to undertake thorough cleaning measures.
Transport Minister Clement Beaune is set to host a meeting on Wednesday with transport and passenger organizations to assess the situation and strengthen preventive measures. The goal is to provide information on actions taken and reassure and protect travelers. An inter-ministerial meeting is scheduled for Friday, with government spokesman Olivier Veran pledging swift responses to address the concerns of the French public.
Sylvain Maillard, head of President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance party in the National Assembly, announced plans to propose a cross-party bill in December to combat the "scourge" of bedbugs. He urged opposition parties to contribute suggestions for the comprehensive legislation.
Health Minister Aurelien Rousseau sought to allay fears, emphasizing that there is no "general panic" but expressing concerns about potential exploitation by pest control firms charging exorbitant fees. Bedbugs have reappeared in recent decades due to factors such as high population densities and increased mass transit.
While bedbugs have been reported in various locations, individual cases are yet to be officially confirmed by authorities. The proposed bill aims to address the issue as a "question of public health" and may include measures such as a national prevention plan, an emergency fund, and the creation of public disinfestation services. The psychological and physical impact of bedbug infestations, including bites causing red areas, blisters, and rashes, underscores the urgency of comprehensive action.