French health minister's home searched in Covid probe: ministry

French Health and Solidarity Minister Olivier Veran speaks to the press at the Elysee Palace in Paris on March 24, 2020. (File photo: AFP)

French police searched the home of Health Minister Olivier Veran on Thursday as part of an inquiry into the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, his office said.

Veran is one of several current or former ministers being probed over their response to the pandemic following complaints by victims of Covid-19 that they were slow to act to check its spread.

Veran's office was also searched as part of the investigation by a court that hears cases of alleged wrongdoing by ministers in the course of their duties.

Officers also searched the home of the director of the national health agency, Jerome Salomon.

Prime Minister Jean Castex is also under investigation over the pandemic, as is his predecessor Edouard Philippe and Veran's predecessor in the health ministry, Agnes Buzyn.

Critics accuse the government of being too slow to roll out large-scale Covid-19 testing and playing down the importance of wearing masks at the outset of the pandemic, when face coverings were in short supply and being reserved for health workers.