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 said Friday he would “bring together transport operators next week” to “undertake further action” to “reassure and protect” the public from the reported surge in the numbers of the blood-sucking insect.
The announcement comes as 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.
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.