The French military's belated response in defending its soldiers from the virus


In all “several dozen” military personnel in France have contracted the Covid-19 coronavirus since the start of the outbreak. The Ministry of Defence in Paris insists that measures to stem the spread of the virus within the armed forces have been applied “very rigorously”. But the accounts of some soldiers and defence staff on the ground tell a different story and paint a picture of a command structure unsure how to react to the growing health threat to their own personnel. Justine Brabant reports.

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The French military had recorded “several dozen” cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus by March 20th, the Ministry of Defence in Paris has told Mediapart. The armed forces are having to act swiftly both to safeguard their 270,000 personnel and their families, and to ensure that they can fulfil their current military missions. But Mediapart has also been told that the ministry was initially slow to apply the full range of safety and precautionary measures against the disease.