The number of Covid cases found in French schools, week by week.
There has been exponential growth in the number of Covid-19 cases in French schools, both among pupils and staff, and some teaching personnel have become seriously ill as a result. Though the education minister has just announced a further toughening of the health protocols to tackle the virus in schools, some teachers fear the ministry is still “in denial” over the scale of the problem they are facing. One teaching union is now calling on members to take strike action. Ismaël Bine and Caroline Coq-Chodorge report.
Anti-coup protestors gather in a mass demonstration in the centre of Yangon, February 12th 2021. © Collectif The Myanmar Project
The civilian protest movement in Myanmar against the military coup of February 1st continued on Monday, when a general strike was held and hundreds of thousands again took to the streets of major towns and cities, including the capital Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay, despite the junta's warnings against a “confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life”. A group of young journalists in Myanmar, a collective called The Myanmar Project, have spent the past three weeks documenting the unfolding events across the country. Here, under cover of anonymity, they tell Laure Siegel what motivated them and how they go about their reporting.
Two women lay flowers at the Pôle Emploi branch in Valence on January 29th 2021, a day after the murder of a supervisor there. © PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP
On Thursday January 28th a supervisor at a Pôle Emploi employment centre in south-east France was shot dead, sending a shock wave of alarm through all branches of the government agency. Staff had already seen growing violence and tension in their branches from disgruntled job seekers, a discontent that has been further fuelled by the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on the economy. As Cécile Hautefeuille found out, fear among job centre staff is now rapidly turning to anger.
Robert, aged 86, and nurse Naura Touaimia on board the Vacci’bus in a village near Reims. © CA
If you cannot come to the vaccine, then the vaccine will come to you. That is the idea behind the 'Vacci'bus' which is visiting parts of rural France at the moment to vaccinate older people in isolated villages against Covid-19. Mediapart went on board a bus servicing the area around Reims where the idea first began, and met some of the residents of these remote communities north-east of Paris. The elderly inhabitants were delighted to be on the bus and receiving their vaccination. But they also revealed what they have been enduring in their village homes during the long months of the epidemic. “We're alone, afraid and we don't see anyone,” one woman said. Cécile Andrzejewski reports.
Migrants aboard the Ocean Viking celebrate the news after permission was granted to dock in Italy. © NB
The Ocean Viking, flagship of the French-based maritime humanitarian organisation SOS Méditerranée, was allowed to dock in Sicily on Monday after rescuing 374 migrants attempting, in overcrowded rubber dinghies, the hazardous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe. It was the first time the ship had been on a search and rescue operation since it was blocked for five months last year in an Italian port. Mediapart’s Nejma Brahim was aboard the Ocean Viking for its two-week sortie, and reports on the tense last moments of its mission as it battled heavy seas between Malta and Sicily.
© Fanny Monier
As 2020 draws to a close amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic, Mediapart knocked on the doors of the inhabitants of an apartment block in the town of Meaux, east of Paris, to ask them about their experiences living through a year unlike any other. The lurking threat of the virus was of course a constant angst, but for many, it is the social and economic consequences that have marked them, and which leave them fearful for the future. Mathilde Goanec reports (illustrations by Fanny Monier).
The Bacheux combe, in the Maurienne alpine valley of Savoie where Covid-19 took grip in November. © FBt/Mediapart
When the coronavirus epidemic swept France this spring, the département (county) of Savoie, in the French Alps, was relatively unaffected. But last month, as the second wave of Covid-19 emerged, it became the country’s worst-hit by virus infections. Why? François Bonnet reports.
A message in tribute to murdered church warden Vincent Loquès. © Sana Sbouai
The terrorist knife attack last Thursday against a church in the Riviera city of Nice, when a 21-year-old Tunisian murdered two women and the basilica’s warden, has deeply shocked the local population. For many, the traumatic events brought back the horror of one of France’s worst terrorist attacks, on July 14th 2016, when a truck was driven into Bastille Day crowds on the city’s seafront boulevard, the Promenade des Anglais, killing 86 people. Sana Sbouai reports from Nice where locals tell her of their mixed feelings of anger, fear and despondency.
Rules have been put in place to allow visits to take place in care homes, as here in Nice in the south of France. © Hans Lucas via AFP
France's care home sector, which was on the front line of the Covid-19 crisis in the early part of the year, is now bracing itself for the second wave. A number of residential homes are already closed to visitors and in some areas staff have had to stop relatives climbing in through windows to see their loved ones. Amid the fear and anxiety about the rapid return of the Coronavirus, there is also growing bitterness among both care home staff and domestic carers that they have once again been overlooked. Angry representatives point out that their working conditions and pay have not been given the same priority as those of hospital staff. Mathilde Goanec reports.
Representatives of the CGT trade union who work at the Verallia glass-making factory at Cognac, August 19th 2020. © MJ
The global glass packaging firm Verallia produces two-thirds of new wine bottles in France and despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic it recently announced pre-tax earnings of 299 million euros for the first half of the year and paid out 100 million euros in dividends, most in the form of shares. Yet the company, which is owned by a New York-based private equity firm, has also announced a restructuring plan in France which will see the closure of one of its furnaces and the loss of more than a hundred jobs. Manuel Jardinaud reports on the mood of the company's workers in Cognac in south-west France as they fight to save their jobs.