CÔTE D'AZUR & PROVENCE
There seems to be a bit of hysteria brewing around the spread of the Coronavirus. We don’t condone or wish to take part in the current media frenzy, however, it is important to stay informed and there are some updates to communicate.
To date, no cases of infection with the Covid-19 virus have been recorded in the department of Alpes-Maritimes, or in Monaco. There were two suspected cases in the principality earlier this week but the Monegasque government acted quickly and the results tested negative for coronavirus.
That being said, local authorities are taking precautionary measures.
The French government website has issued advice for avoiding exposure, including télétravail (working from home), avoiding conferences and public events with crowds. **All festivals and parades in PACA have been cancelled, including the remaining days of Nice Carnival, the Menton Lemon Festival, the Violet Festival in Tourrettes-sur-Loup and the Napolean landing in Golf Juan.**
As always, safe hygiene steps like washing hands and avoiding contact with your eyes, nose and mouth is the best defence against the flu.
For those who are returning from affected areas, including China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and the regions of Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto Italy, the state has asked people to avoid contact with the public for 14 days. This is especially important for children, requesting that parents do not bring their children to school until the 14 days have passed without symptoms.
If you have any flu-like symptoms and respiratory problems, call your local SAMU centre right away.
The Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Nice (CHU) has now been added to the list of 70 hospitals in France capable of diagnosing coronavirus.
The University Hospital in Marseille is also one of the hospitals that can perform diagnostic tests. In the near future, a further 70 hospitals throughout France are to be authorised to carry out the tests, so that ultimately there will be at least one contact point per department capable of handling any eventual case.
The border town of Menton is currently reacting with strong preventive measures to prevent the arrival and inevitable spread of the virus. Due to its proximity to Italy (the European country most affected to date with 400 infections and now 12 deaths), Mayor Jean-Claude Guibal is calling for the establishment of an emergency plan for the city, the mobilisation of hospitals and the strengthening of health and passport controls at the border.
So far, around 77,000 people in about 30 countries worldwide have become infected with the virus.
Currently, Northern Italy seems the most heavily affected. There, part of Lombardy and Veneto has been quarantined, schools have been closed until the beginning of March and the Carnival celebrations in Venice were cancelled. The deaths that have taken place in Italy so far each concern older people already suffering from other diseases, i.e. people with a weakened immune system.
It is important to note that coronavirus has not proved to be a grave infection in most people. The only people suffering from complications are mostly elderly in their 80s and up or people with heart or lung problems. If you fall into the high-risk profile, it is wise to take extra precautions to avoid crowds and to wear a face mask while in public.
There have only been two reported cases of the virus in Liguria, in Alassio and now in La Spezia. Authorities in Alassio quarantined the areas where the infected 72-year-old tourist was visiting, including two hotels "Al Mare" and "Bel Sit." Guests are to remain for testing. The woman, who was treated at San Martino di Genova hospital is doing fine and in good condition.
A 52-year-old man in La Spezia had been working in a town afflicted with the virus and tested positive. He is being treated at the local hospital and is doing fine, although he has typical flu symptoms.
The president of Liguria is taking drastic precautionary measures to avoid the rampant spread that the northern provinces have seen. He ordered by a decree on 23 February, among other things, that all types of schools and public institutions should be closed this week, museums and libraries included. All public events of any kind are also prohibited.
Anyone in Italy is urged to contact the emergency number 112 in case of fever, cough and respiratory symptoms, as well as any association with China or other affected countries through travel or indirect contact.
Again, there is no need to panic as this virus is benign to most of the population and over 90% of those infected recovers easily and quickly. But for those who are susceptible, it is wise to take extra precautions in public. Most importantly, stay informed through governmental sites as apposed to sensational internet headlines.
For the best information on Coronavirus, and tips on staying healthy, visit the World Health Organization’s page on Coronavirus advice for the public:
**Updated 27 Feb.