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‘No one is safe’: France vows action as bedbugs sweep Paris


By Chris Liakos and Maya Szaniecki, CNN

Paris (CNN) — The French government has vowed action to “reassure and protect” the public as its capital Paris reports a “widespread” rise in bedbugs.

French Transport Minister Clement Beaune has said he would convene a meeting this week to “undertake further action” to “reassure and protect” the public from the reported surge in the numbers of the blood-sucking insect.

French transport operators remain “vigilant” about bedbugs following reports of what was said to be sightings in public transport but say there have been no sightings in recent days.

RATP, the operator behind the Parisian metro, said it is “extremely vigilant on the matter” but there had been no recent sightings.

The company told CNN on Monday that “each sighting is taken into account and is subject to a treatment,” adding that “these last few days, there have been no proven cases of bedbugs recorded in our equipment.”

RATP said a report was made on Wednesday last week but after an assessment “no presence of bedbugs was recorded on the train.”

Railway company SNCF – which operates many trains in the country including the Eurostar – told CNN that it “takes reports of pests very seriously” but that “to date we have not observed any presence or proven reports of bedbugs.”

There have been recent calls for government action from Paris officials and trade unions mount after several videos of bedbugs spotted in public transport and other locations such as cinemas have surfaced on social media.

Speaking to French TV station LCI on Friday, deputy mayor of Paris Emmanuel Gregoire called the phenomenon “widespread.”

“You have to understand that in reality no one is safe, obviously there are risk factors but in reality, you can catch bedbugs anywhere and bring them home,” he said.

‘Emerging phenomenon’

Three years ago, the French government launched an anti-bedbug campaign, which includes a dedicated website and an information hotline, as numbers of the insect surged.

But Gregoire said that despite that plan, “there are 3.6 million people who come into Paris every day, and bedbugs do not stop on the outskirts of the city.”

An expert from France’s national health and sanitary body, Anses, said the problem was “an emerging phenomenon in France and almost everywhere in the world.”

“It’s mainly due to the movement of people, populations traveling, the fact that people stay in short-term accommodation and bring back bedbugs in their suitcases or luggage,” Johanna Fite from the Anses department of risk assessment told CNN.

She added there was an “escalation” in numbers because bedbugs were increasingly resistant to insecticides.

“We are observing more and more bedbug populations which are resistant, so there is no miracle treatment to get rid of them,” Fite said.

However, the Paris deputy mayor warned against “hysteria” over the issue, noting there had been an “increase in Parisians who are referring to the town hall’s information services for information on bedbugs”.

“Professional companies which intervene in residential areas are telling us that currently the proportion of interventions for bedbugs is atypical compared to normal and is increasing rapidly,” he said.

The news comes as Paris gets ready to host the 2024 Olympics Games, but officials say they are not worried.

“There is no threat to the Olympic Games,” Gregoire said.

“Bedbugs existed before and they will exist afterward,” he added, saying the games were an “opportunity” for everybody to work together on the issue.

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