The hallowed cafes and bars in Paris and the Ile-de-France will close starting Tuesday for the next two weeks as a new report highlights just how vulnerable certain parts of the region’s population still are amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first study in Europe to focus on a region’s poor and disenfranchised, the report issued by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, on Tuesday revealed that one in every two, or more than half, of impoverished residents are infected with coronavirus.
The group conducted tests in late June and early July at 10 emergency shelters, food banks, and two migrant homes in the Ile-de-France, revealing a positivity rate of 55%. This compares with a positivity rate for the general population in Paris of 12%. The positivity rate in the migrant homes was 88.7%.
Recorded coronavirus numbers continue to surge in all categories, according to France’s Health Ministry. As of Tuesday morning, cases of infection rose by 5,084 from Monday to 624,274. Notably, this is down significantly from 12,565 cases on Monday. There were 70 fatalities, and the death toll stands at 32,299. Figures for hospitalizations and patients in ICU are not yet available.
The MSF carried out testing with Epicenter, its epidemiology center, on a sample 818 residents, 90% of whom were considered susceptible.
Corinne Torre, the MSF head of mission for France, said in an interview with franceinfo TV that the most vulnerable populations would logically contract the virus.
“The results show an enormous prevalence. The main reason is the promiscuity and the accommodation conditions which generated clusters,” she said. At the start of the pandemic, particularly in Paris, health officials housed the city’s homeless and impoverished in hotels and gymnasiums, thus decreasing the necessary social distancing and providing a perfect environment for the spread of the virus.
The region’s continued tightening of restrictions follows Prime Minister Jean Castex’ placing the Ile-de-France into the maximum alert zone on Sunday — the highest of three zones established by the Health Ministry — as well as Monday’s televised news conference by officials, with Prefect of Police Didier Lallemont and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo among them — announcing the new restrictions.
There will be a re-evaluation at the end of the two weeks.
Restaurants will stay open following strict health protocols, as well as museums, movie houses, theaters, training grounds and stadiums, the latter with limited numbers.
Other public entities to close are gyms and fitness clubs, and swimming pools, open only for minors.
Nursing homes will make visits by appointment only, limited to two people at a time in open spaces therein.
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