French MP gets ovation on first day back after COVID coma

Richard Ferrand, speaker of French National Assembly, arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) – French parliamentarians gave a standing ovation on Tuesday to a lawmaker who was making his return to work after he caught COVID-19 and spent a month in a coma.

The speaker of the National Assembly, Richard Ferrand, told deputies he was giving the floor to Jean-Luc Reitzer who was admitted back in March and spent two and a half months in hospital being treated for the effects of the virus.

Members of the assembly got to their feet and applauded Reitzer, as he made his way to the microphone to give his speech. “Thank you, I am very touched,” he told his colleagues.

Reitzer has been a member of parliament since 1988 and is a member of the centre-right opposition Les Republicains party.

He represents one of the regions in eastern France most hit in the first wave of the outbreak in early 2020. He used his first speech back to appeal for better government funding of the healthcare system.

“Too many dysfunctions have appeared. I am a living witness,” Reitzer said, wearing a mask.

“Can you pledge that you will no longer close beds or much-needed services in hospitals?” he asked French Prime Minister Jean Castex.

(Reporting by Matthieu Protard and Elizabeth Pineau; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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