At least 70 new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in reopened schools in France as nearly 150,000 more children returned to classrooms on Monday, according to the country’s education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer.
“Every time, or almost every time, these are cases that are declared outside of school,” Blanquer told French radio network RTL on Monday, adding that “it is inevitable” for there to be some cases found inside of school “but that remains the minority.”
Last week, some 1.5 million elementary and primary school students — roughly one in every four — returned to class as France gradually emerges from a nationwide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Blanquer noted that 70% of all students in the country continue to take classes at home, not at school. The French government is allowing parents to keep children at home amid fears prompted by the virus outbreak.
The newly-detected cases in schools come as health officials identified a number of new clusters across the country, including 34 employees who tested positive for the virus at a slaughterhouse in Fleury-les-Aubrais, a commune in the Loiret department of north-central France.
France is one of the worst-affected nations in Europe amid the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 179,000 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and at least 28,111 deaths, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University.