As the Covid-19 pandemic continues its devastating path across the world, wreaking close to 200,000 recorded deaths from the virus and a global economic meltdown, the only evident hopes for a stabilised return to normal activity lies in a vaccine or a drug treatment to contain its spread. But few believe a vaccine will be realistically ready before, at the earliest, 2021. French microbiologist Didier Raoult has championed an immediately available antiviral compound called chloriquine, previously used against malaria, as a miracle drug that neutralises the virus, receiving the support of US President Donald Trump and last week hosting a visit to his laboratory by French President Emmanuel Macron. But as Pascale Pascariello reports, deep controversy surrounds the work of Raoult, a maverick amid France’s scientific establishment.
Health chief Jérôme Salomon said coronavirus-linked fatalities were up 2.8%, at 20,265, after an increase of 2.0% on Sunday.
A total of 395 people died in hospitals and care homes from Covid-19 virus infection over the previous 24 hours, French officials announced on Sunday evening, the lowest toll in three weeks and which brought the total number of recorded deaths from the virus since the start of the epidemic to 19,718, while there was a slight fall in the numbers of those hospitalised by the infection, and fewer also in intensive care for the 11th consecutive day.
In his daily briefing on Thursday, French health administration head Jérôme Salomon announced 753 people in the country had died of coronavirus over the past 24 hours, when the number of those in intensive care units fell slightly, bringing the total of recorded deaths in France from the virus to 17,920.
In a televised address on Monday evening when he announced the lockdown on public movement to contain the Covid-19 virus epidemic is now extended into May, French President Emmanuel Macron admitted “our country was not sufficiently ready for this crisis”. But while the unpreparedness can be traced back to its predecessors, the French government has failed with its strategy for the urgent procurement of a vital piece of equipment that frontline healthcare staff sorely lack: protective masks. In this second investigation into the fiasco, Mediapart details the blunders that continue to place healthcare workers in danger, and how the business world has been more effectively provided for than hospitals.
The French health authorities on Tuesday reported the highest 24-hour death toll yet from Covid-19 virus infection, with a total of 762 new fatalities, bringing the total number of recorded coronavirus-related deaths to 15,729, but the numbers of patients treated for the infection in intensive care fell for the sixth day in a row, to 6,730.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Monday that the current national lockdown on public movement to contain the Covid-19 virus epidemic has been extended to May 11th, after which he forecast a gradual return to activity, while he also admitted that France had been insufficiently prepared for the health crisis.
After what appeared to be a peak over recent days, French fatalities among hospital patients from the Covid-19 virus rose further on Monday with 833 new deaths against Sunday's figures, bringing the total number of recorded deaths in hospitals in France since the outbreak began to 8,911.
The type of healthcare to be administered and the rules surrounding the physical and chemical restraint of some residents in France's care homes have been been urgently reviewed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting anger from some carers. They fear many residents who do not get the virus could suffer as a result, and that some who do could die “painful deaths” because of administrative delays, or be affected by a growing shortage of medicines. There is dismay, too, that these establishment are once again being treated as the poor relation in France's social and healthcare system. According to the government's incomplete figures some 2,189 deaths “linked to Covid” have occurred in the country's nursing homes since March 1st. Mathilde Goanec reports.
When deaths from people in old age care facilities in France are added the overall figure is now 7,560.
France's director general of health, Jérôme Salomon, also said at least 1,416 people had died at care homes since the start of the epidemic.
In all 160,000 police and gendarmes have been deployed across country to prevent the traditional grand départ on holiday.
In TV debate one doctor suggested trials in Africa to see if a tuberculosis vaccine would prove effective against coronavirus.
An investigation by Mediapart has revealed the chaotic management at the highest levels of the French state over the crucial issue of providing protective masks to help tackle the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. Our probe, which has analysed the situation since January and is based on numerous witness accounts and documentary evidence, highlights the hidden shortages, the unreliable health instructions, the neglected offers of help with importing masks, the continuing shortage of stocks and the way that some companies have been favoured. It also reveals the lies that have accompanied this mismanagement. Meanwhile hundreds of nurses have become infected with the virus. Yann Philippin, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.
The threat of the Covid-19 coronavirus is particularly great for France's overseas regions and territories because of their remoteness and their lack of infrastructure. But above all, as Julien Sartre writes, the pandemic risks being a disaster for the morale and mental well-being of the people living on these far-flung lands.