How and when the spread of Covid-19 in France swept out of control

By and Lise Barnéoud

In France, as in other European countries emerging from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the past management of the now subsiding crisis is under scrutiny, and many questions are being asked as to how the terrible toll of the virus might have been lessened by more appropriate action early on. In this report, Caroline Coq-Chodorge and Lise Barnéoud trace the chronology of events, interview those doctors involved on the frontline and reveal confidential documents from the French healthcare administration that show how the spread of the epidemic in France was out of control as of March 1st.

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When French health minister Agnès Buzyn stood down on February 16th, leaving her post in order to stand as candidate for Paris mayor on behalf of President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling centre-right LREM party, she declared that the spread of the Covid-19 virus in France was under control.