Bedbugs have landed on the national agenda in France.
(Bloomberg) — Bedbugs have landed on the national agenda in France.
A rash of bedbug sightings in the country sparked a frenzy of news coverage at home and abroad, forcing the government to jump in and quell the hysteria surrounding the subject as Paris prepares to host the Olympics next year.
Videos that appear to show the bloodsucking insects crawling over seats in the Paris metro and a high-speed train have gone viral on social media channels in the last few weeks. It led to an emergency meeting on Wednesday between Transport Minister Clement Beaune and operators including RATP, which runs Paris’s subway, trams and buses.
“It’s a topic that needs to be treated seriously, with no psychosis and no denial,” Beaune told reporters after the meeting. “There is no resurgence in bedbugs on public transport. There is no danger. Each case that is signaled gets investigated, and we will continue doing so each time.”
Beaune said he asked public transport operators to publish data on a quarterly basis on the cases flagged and those that are confirmed. Protocols to deal with bedbug episodes also have been reinforced to make sure action is swift whenever real cases emerge.
“Transparency will be key,” he said.
While there’s no clear evidence that infestations have climbed significantly in recent months, the topic has become a political issue in France, which is currently hosting the Rugby World Cup and getting ready to host the Paris 2024 Olympics starting in July.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has said the government is working to find long-term solutions for detecting infestations and supporting those affected, while the Health Ministry recommends that travelers inspect hotel beds and suggested that people be careful when purchasing used furniture or mattresses.
Between 2017 and 2022, more than one out of 10 homes in France was infested with bedbugs, according to the country’s national food, environment and health safety agency, collectively costing €1.4 billion ($1.47 billion).
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