Recorded deaths in France from the Covid-19 coronavirus by Saturday evening had risen to 562, with 6,172 people receiving hospital treatment for the infection, a quarter of who are in intensive care, according to official figures. But no-one doubts this is still a statistical calm before the epidemic engulfs France’s healthcare system, a wave forecast to reach a peak in early April. Mediapart has been talking to doctors and nurses around France about how they are preparing for a crisis many predict will be so great that choices will have to be made about which patients are admitted for treatment – as is already happening in the currently worst-hit region of Alsace.
Antoine Vieillard-Baron, head of the surgical and medical intensive care unit of the Ambroise Paré hospital in Paris said on Friday that urgent measures were underway to increase available beds for patients seriously ill from Covid-19 coronavirus infection ahead of an expected peak of the epidemic in early April.
The total number of recorded deaths from the Covid-19 coronavirus in France had risen to 450 by Friday evening, according a health official, while nearly 1,300 people were receiving intensive care and another 12,612 people were found to be carrying the infection.
A helicopter carrier has been sent to the French Mediterranean island of Corsica to evacuate people seriously ill from with infection from the Covis-19 coronavirus, who will be taken to hospitals in the southern mainland cities of in Marseille and Toulon.
Following the closure of all fenced parks in Paris, the authorities have now closed green spaces in central Paris and also walkways along the River Seine, citing a lack of observance of the lockdown measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, while the Rivierra city of Nice has closed its celebrated seafront Promenade des Anglais amid rumours of impending curfew measures.
Amid the galloping Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic in France, there is a particularly grave threat to the country’s prison population, many of who are detained in overcrowded and insalubrious conditions. The dangers are such that measures are underway to reduce inmate numbers, with magistrates advised to deliver bail conditions instead of jail terms, and to approve unusually early release for prisoners nearing the end of their sentences. But many magistrates find themselves caught in a dilemma over both practical and ethical issues.
Deaths from the Covid-19 coronavirus in France rose by 89 over the past 24 hours to total 264, while the known number of those infected climbed to 9,134, according to official figures released on Wednesday evening, as still inadequate testing capacity for the virus was raised to a daily 2,500.
Several hundred workers at an Amazon warehouse and shipping centre near Orléans in north-central France staged a strike on Wednesday over their fears of exposure to the Covid-19 coronavirus, calling for the site's closure or for a dispensation for those staff who wished to stay at home.
An exodus from Paris of the wealthy with second homes or those with provincial families to welcome them, hoping to enjoy greener environments with which to live out the nationwide home confinement order issued to contain the spread of the coronavirus, is causing concern in some relatively unaffected regions that the fleeing Parisians are bringing the virus with them.
As the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic accelerates across France, the country was officially placed in lockdown at midday on Tuesday, with the population required by law to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as buying food, attending medical appointments, or travelling to work for those with no alternative. Attention has been focused on the bizarre atmosphere taking over Paris and major cities as streets empty of pedestrians and vehicles. But the crisis ahead is nowhere more acute than for the dependent elderly and handicapped in rural areas who already rely on homecare workers to survive in normal times, and now more than ever. Jordan Pouille reports from the Sologne region in north-central France.
French interior minister Christophe Castaner on Monday evening provided further details on the nationwide lockdown of the population announced earlier by President Emmanuel Macron, adding that 100,000 police officers would be deployed to ensure the public only left their homes for reasons that should be justified by a written statement, downloaded from an official website and signed, or face a fine of up to 135 euros.
In a televised address on Monday evening French President Emmanuel Macron announced a lockdown of the population, initially for a 15-day period, restricting all but non-essential movements of people outside of their homes in an effort to contain the Covid-19 coronvitrus outbeak, while also postponing the second round of municipal elections due next weekend.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Saturday the nationwide closure from midnight of entertainment venues, shops, cafés and restaurants in an effort to contain the accelerating spread of the coronavirus outbreak, essentiually exempting food stores, pharmacies and petrol stations.
In a televised speech to the nation on Thursday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron described the novel coronavirus outbreak as the "worst" health crisis the country has faced for 100 years and announced new measures to conatin the epidemic, notably an indefinite shutdown of all educational establishments from next Monday, while urging people aged over 70 to stay at home, but he stopped short of cancelling the nationwide municipal elections due to begin on Sunday.
The mayor of a small town in north-west France justified holding what may be the worlds largest rally of people disguised as Smurfs, the elf-like fictional cartoon characters who livein mushroom shaped houses in the forest, attracting a crowd of more than 3,500 despite a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people to counter the spread of coronovirus, saying 'we must not stop living'.