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French minister's advice to homeless during cold snap - "Stay indoors"

By Johnny Summerton
Posted Feb 8, 2012 in Health
As you're doubtless aware by now, much of Europe is going through Brass Monkeys weather, and France has been no exception over the past week.
Indeed there's unlikely to be a let-up in the cold spell until next weekend according to the national meteorological (try saying that after a few bevvies) office Météo France.
Prime time TV news and radio programmes are typically dedicating plenty of air time to - among other aspects - the freezing temperatures, burst pipes, electricity consumption, the danger of blackouts, and the plight of the homeless.
Cue the junior minister for health, Nora Berra, whose job you would imagine, is one that would require her being particularly sensitive to the needs of the more vulnerable - especially during of weather extremes.
And such was the case at the weekend when the 49-year-old helpfully wrote on her blog her recommendations as to how those most at risk - the homeless, infants, the elderly, or people with chronic cardiovascular or respiratory problems - could cope with the cold spell; .
A few lines later came her words of wisdom beginning with, "In the case of an extreme drop in temperature, I recommend to those most vulnerable to stay indoors."
Yep. She was apparently telling the homeless that they shouldn't venture outside.
As the website of the weekly news magazine Nouvel Observateur pointed out, the Net was soon abuzz with reactions to Berra's blunder, with Twitter users poking fun at the minister by recommending that, "the homeless also eat five fruit and vegetables each day for a healthy diet" or suggesting they "wear fur coats rather than jogging suits because they would keep them warmer."
Berra responded by amending her blog and, as the national daily Le Monde wrote, dropping the homeless from her original list of the "most vulnerable" and giving them a whole sentence at the end of her entry with a reminder that, "if you see a homeless person on the street who seems to need help because of the cold, call 115 (an emergency service for the homeless) to report it without delay."
Seemingly unwilling to admit that she had made any sort of mistake, she also answered her critics by saying that it had been an "error of interpretation" and writing a shorter blog entry (Tweeted) pointing out that, "there are some subject which do not lend themselves to irony."
Well, there's nothing like an apology...and that's...

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