Hospital intensive care units in the Paris region are already swamped by the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. Mediapart has seen emails in which the regional health authority has asked hospital chiefs to free up a thousand beds in 48 hours as a matter of urgency and to transform their hospitals into disaster zone facilities. There has even been talk of nurses having to be pressed into service. Meanwhile hospital staff, who are poorly protected and in some cases themselves suffering from the virus, say they will “settle their scores” with the health authorities later. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports.
In China and the United States, as well as France, the drug chloroquine is one of the main focal points in the race to provide an effective treatment for the Covid-19 coronavirus. So far there is still insufficient data to show whether this anti-malaria drug will prove useful in treating people infected with the virus. And a French study praising its benefits has become mired in controversy. Rouguyata Sall reports.
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.
The introduction by the French government last week of a lockdown on people’s movements amid the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic saw some city dwellers head for more pleasant surrounds in which to be confined. Sports journalist Jean-Louis Le Touzet was one of them, arriving just before the restrictions entered into force in a small village on the Channel coast, where he immediately began keeping this diary. In Audresselles, the health crisis is an economic catastrophe as businesses go to the wall in what Le Touzet’s British and Brexit-supporting neighbour, now confined in Europe, warns will be “worse than the crash in 2008”.
Official French figures released on Sunday evening indicated deaths so far in the country from Covid-19 coronavirus infection had risen to a total of 674, up by 112 since Saturday, while there were 16,018 cases of people tested positive for the virus.
The Covid-19 coronavirus is now spreading in the US, where if you have wealth or a salary, and enough space at home, you might be able to pull off the absurd trick of isolating yourself for a few months, writes Columbia Law School professor and essayist Jedediah Britton-Purdy, but for half the population with no savings, living paycheck to paycheck, which has to hustle every day to find work, this is simply impossible.
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.
by Caroline Coq-Chodorge, Marine Turchi, Rachida El Azzouzi and Antton Rouget
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.
by Michel Deléan, Camille Polloni and Matthieu Suc
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.
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 of midday on Tuesday, and initially announced for 15 days although few expect it to lend before May at least, the French capital, like the rest of the country, was placed under official lockdown in an effort to contain the coronavirus epidemic, with the population confined to their homes except for only essential movement outdoors.
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.
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'.
Along with the medical and health fears over the current coronavirus outbreak, there are also growing concerns about the economic impact of a pandemic on the world. In 1918 and 1919, at the end of World War I, the so-called 'Spanish Influenza' killed close to 18 million people. Yet the impact it had on the world economy at the time is poorly understood. Mediapart's Romaric Godin examines what lessons the deadly Spanish flu outbreak might hold for us today.
by Romaric Godin
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