Tomás Ó Flatharta

Looking at Things from the Left

Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or Covid-19) in France: medical information, thoughts and practical advice – International Viewpoint – online socialist magazine

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World situation

Close to 30 countries and territories are affected. The expansion of the Covid-19 coronavirus is therefore international, although uneven across continents and regions. Europe is one of the affected areas. However, only in China is there a real epidemic for the moment. It is not yet possible to predict what the future progression of the disease will be.

Situation in France

According to the Ministry of Health, there were eleven “proven” cases of contamination by Covid-19 in France as of 10 February. Five patients (British) were in the Alpine resort of Contamines-Montjoie, where they had been infected during the visit of a fellow countryman returning from Singapore. It was feared that the disease could have spread locally. Screening operations were carried out, but no further cases were detected. [3]

The condition of one of the patients, a Chinese tourist, was worrying – his treatment was delayed due to a misdiagnosis, but he is also an elderly person very susceptible to pneumopathy and his death was announced 15 February. He is the first person to die of Covid-19 outside Asia. Four others are now cured. The six others, who are hospitalized in isolation, are not considered to be a cause for concern.

So, for the time being, the answer to the question “what to do” is: nothing special. Cases are extremely rare and there is no epidemic.

It is all the more important to stress this because an anxiety-provoking climate, fostered for a time by media coverage, has given rise to explosions of racist behaviour, in this case against people with an East Asian profile. It maybe even more the case in Britain than in France [4] It is obviously important to combat such behaviour systematically.

Another point of clarification: the coronavirus only survives for a few hours (2 or 3?) on an inert (i.e. not living tissue) and dry surface. Packages arriving from China cannot therefore be infected (any more than cooked food – however in case of infection avoid raw or lightly cooked meat).

It is reasonable to be worried about the issue of the new coronavirus because the course of the disease is unpredictable and it will take time for vaccines to be developed. And the effectiveness of the response to a possible epidemic depends on the quality of the public health service throughout the country, which is in crisis, particularly as a result of government-imposed austerity policies. We will come back to this point in the light of what the history of the epidemic in China teaches us in this area.

Before doing so, let us look back at some concrete information.

Written by tomasoflatharta

Feb 27, 2020 at 9:36 am

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