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.
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.
Amid the coronavirus epidemic in France, Mediapart has been asking doctors from a range of different hospital services to describe, in their own words, their day-to-day experiences and difficulties in coping with the current crisis. Here, Matthieu, a 26-year-old junior doctor in an intensive care unit in the north-east city of Strasbourg, describes the physical and psychological exhaustion of his relentless duty shifts over recent weeks, and his fears of a backdraught of the epidemic after the lifting of the national lockdown.
During the 24 hours up until Friday evening, 761 people died in France's hospitals and care homes from the effects of the Covid-19 virus, according to official figures, bringing the country's total number of officially recorded deaths from the virus to 18,681, while the numbers of those hospitalised for the infection, and notably those in intensive care, continued along this week's downward trend.
In an interview with the Financial Times, and during a week of heightening diplomatic tensions between Paris and Beijing, French President Emmanuel Macron said it would be 'naive' to believe the Chinese authorities had dealt better with the Covid-19 virus crisis than Western democracies, and that in China 'There are clearly things that have happened that we don't know about'.
After this week announcing the prolongation of the national lockdown on public movement to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus epidemic, the French government increased to 110 billion euros its financial aid package to cushion the effects of the shutdown. The aid, largely ploughed into helping businesses and paying the tab for their laid-off workforces, includes measures for low-income households and the extension of unemployment benefits for those about to lose them. “We provide responses to all human situations,” claimed labour minister Muriel Pénicaud. But, as Cécile Hautefeuille reports, a recent reform restricting access to the benefits system exposes many tens of thousands of the jobless to financial ruin.
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.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe has pledged frontline healthcare staff treating patients with the Covid-19 virus will receive tax-free bonus payments of up to 1,500 euros and higher overtime rates, part of an 8 billion-euro injection into the country's health system.
The Chinese ambassador to France was summoned by the foreign ministry in Paris after his embassy posted online criticism of French management of the Covid-19 epidemic, which Chinese officials have since insisted was a 'misunderstanding'.
One third of the crew of French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle – 668 out of a total 1,767 – have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 31 of them in hospital, one in intensive care, following an outbreak reported during the ship's tour of duty in the Atlantic.
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.
by Yann Philippin, Antton Rouget, Clément Fayol and mélanie delattre
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.
Official figures released Saturday evening reported 635 deaths over the past 24 hours in France of people infected by the Covid-19 coronavirus, following a fall in the numbers that began on Friday, bringing the total number of fatalaties to 13,832 while the number of those infected by the virus who are receiving intensive care dropped to the lowest of the past week.