Homes of French health minister, other officials, raided in COVID-19 probe

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Police raided the homes and offices of France's health minister and its public health director on Thursday as part of a probe into the authorities' response to the coronavirus pandemic, a health ministry official told Reuters, confirming an earlier BFM TV report.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

“This operation was carried out without encountering any problems. The procedure is following its course,” the official added.

As well as current Health Minister Olivier Veran and public health director Jerome Salomon, Veran's predecessor Agnes Buzyn, former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and former government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye were also targeted by the raids, BFM added.

Reuters was not immediately able to contact Veran and Salomon or the other officials caught up in the raids. There was no immediate comment from the Paris police or the Interior Ministry.

On July 3, the Law Court of the Republic - a special court established to try cases of ministerial misconduct - launched a judicial investigation into the official handling of the pandemic following dozens of complaints by doctors, local authorities and nursing homes.

The inquiry was intended to establish whether there had been a “lack of will to fight a disaster” from those in charge at the outbreak of the epidemic.

News of the raids broke just hours after President Emmanuel Macron ordered a nightly curfew affecting a third of the French population in a bid to curb the surging second wave of the deadly virus.

Daily new infections are increasing at a record rate, putting a renewed strain on the hospital system. The virus has killed more than 33,000 people to date in France, the ninth-highest tally in the world.

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