>ANSA-FOCUS/ Traces of virus found in Paris’s non-drinking water


(di Tullio Giannotti).
Paris, April 19 – Traces of the coronavirus has been found in the water in Paris, but only the water used for
fountains and to wash down the streets.
The alarm was raised by the city council itself, which has promised that the water running from Parisians’ taps at home is extremely pure.
Well, almost pure, as the water’s chlorine content has been increased since the start of the epidemic.
“We’ll use drinking water to wash the streets,” said a city official, saying the decision was made under the “principle of precaution”.
That is to prevent a hypothetic drop of contaminated water (there were only positive results at 4 testing points out of 27) that remained in the air ending up in the respiratory system of a passer-by.
This is practically impossible and the specialists on Sunday did not consider it to be a real danger to the population.
City Environment Chief Célia Blauel explained that the drinking water runs to the taps in people’s homes via a network of pipes that us completely different to the network used to water parks and gardens (which are currently closed because of the lockdown) and to feed the fountains in the city’s squares and wash its streets.
Drinking water is the subject of strict surveillance by the authorities, even more so since the start of the epidemic.
That is why an extra dose of chlorine above normal – but in no way harmful to consumers – has been put into the pipes, after a lower flow of water than normal was noticed in the system.
Indeed, since the start of the epidemic the Parisians have been consuming less drinking water – both because they prefer bottles of mineral water and because they often wash their hands with disinfectant gel.
The danger is that lower flows could lead to damaging deposits and that was behind the decision to add extra chlorine.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe gave a two-hour press conference in the evening in view of the gradual end of the
lockdown, set to start on May 11.
The premier preferred to call it the “second phase” as the intense circulation of the virus means that “life as normal will not return for a long time”.
For example, the government is thinking of making it obligatory to wear facemasks on public transport.
As for the thorny issue if the reopening of schools, the authorities will probably start “on a regional basis or with
groups of half a class”.
Activities that have been done via smartworking over the last few weeks are set to continue in this way.
Other issues touched on by Philippe included the summer holidays (“it is not reasonable to think about trips to distant places”) and the tests (both swabs and serum tests) that France says it wants to perform on 500,000 people a week from May 11 onwards.

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