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France's Macron says nationalism is no response to coronavirus pandemic

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-03-13 11:22

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks as the Eiffel Tower is seen in the background during a ceremony to honour victims of terror attacks in Europe, on the 16th anniversary of Madrid attacks, at the Trocadero in Paris, France, March 11, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

PARIS - French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday warned against the "nationalist withdrawal" as a pitfall to avoid at international level in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

"Two pitfalls must be avoided, one is the nationalist withdrawal because this virus has no passport," said Macron at a televised address to the nation. The other pitfall is the individualistic withdrawal.

"We may have to take border control measures but we have to take them when they are relevant," said the French president, referring to US President Donald Trump's decision to suspend all travel from European countries except Britain for 30 days as a new measure to contain spread of COVID-19.

"Internationally, I appeal to the responsibility of the G7 and G20," said Macron. "As of tomorrow I will speak with President Trump to offer him an exceptional initiative."

"It is not the division that makes it possible to respond to what is today a global crisis, but rather our ability to act together," he added.

The French president also called on Europeans to act strongly and quickly to stop the spread of a financial and economic crisis.

"Together, European governments must take decisions on supporting activity, and relaunching it, whatever it costs," he said.

On the national scale, the French head of state pledged "everything will be done" to protect the companies of all sizes and all the workers.

"An exceptional and massive mechanism of technical unemployment will be implemented," following which the state would take over paying salaries of people forced to stop work, said Macron. Also, firms would not have to pay taxes that fall due in March.

Warning that the coronavirus is the worst health crisis that France has faced in a century, Macron admitted that "despite the efforts to slow it down, the virus continues to spread and is accelerating."

He announced that all educational establishments will be closed starting from Monday and until further notice.

Recalling the priority of protecting the most vulnerable, he urged everyone over 70 of age and those suffering from chronic disease to stay at home as much as possible.

Meanwhile, public transport will stay open and two-round municipal election is maintained as scheduled for March 15 and 22, said Macron.

On Thursday, France confirmed 2,876 cases of coronavirus and 61 deaths, and 129 were hospitalized in intensive care.

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