France launches battle plan against bedbug invasion

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PARIS -The French government said on Friday it was launching a concerted effort to fight bedbugs that have appeared in numbers in public transport, cinemas and hospitals.

The blood-sucking insects have been spotted in the Paris metro, high-speed trains and at Paris’s Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, with disgusted travellers posting videos on social media.

Transport Minister Clement Beaune said he was convening representatives from public transport operators next week “to inform them about counter-measures and how to do more for the protection of travellers”.

Posting on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Beaune said the aim was to “reassure and protect”.

Bedbugs, which had largely disappeared from daily life by the 1950s, have made a resurgence in recent decades, mostly due to high population densities and more mass transit.

One-tenth of all French households are believed to have had a bedbug problem over the past few years, usually requiring a pest control operation costing several hundreds of euros (dollars) that often needs to be repeated.

Paris city hall on Thursday urged President Emmanuel Macron’s government to help with the infestation, including by creating a dedicated task force.

Bedbugs get their name from their habit of nesting in mattresses, although they can also hide in clothes and in luggage.

They come out at night to feed on human blood.

France’s national health agency recommended that people check their hotel beds when travelling and be cautious about bringing second-hand furniture or pre-owned mattresses into their homes.

Once bedbugs are sighted in a home, affected rooms must be treated quickly, it said.

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