2021 Photo Contest, General News, 3rd Prize

COVID-19 Pandemic in France


Laurence Geai

28 April, 2020

Yves (75) comes to see his wife Josiane (82), who lives in Les Jardins de la Voulzie care home, in Les Ormes-sur-Voulzie, France, while COVID-19 social distancing measures are in force.

The first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Europe were reported in France on 24 January. Reports of infections in other European countries followed quickly, and on 13 March the World Health Organization declared Europe to be the epicenter of the pandemic. By the end of March, Paris and its suburbs accounted for more than a quarter of the 29,000 confirmed infections in French hospitals, with 1,300 people in intensive care. France went into home lockdown between 17 March and 11 May, with restrictions in Paris being extended to 14 June. Schools, cafés, restaurants, non-essential shops and public buildings were closed, and people outside the home had to carry identification and signed declarations for any travel. Care homes were closed to visitors. Hospitalizations reached a peak in April, with 7,148 people in intensive care, when ICU capacity was only 5,000. Specially converted trains transported patients from overcrowded hospitals to regions that had fewer cases, and the French military airlifted critical cases from eastern France to hospitals in neighboring countries. As the death rate rose, morgues filled to capacity and ad hoc mortuaries were opened in places like the refrigeration hall of Paris’s Rungis wholesale food market. Funeral homes were ordered to bury or cremate bodies immediately, without any ceremony, mortuary preparation, or anyone in attendance.

About the photographer

Laurence Geai

Laurence Geai is a French photojournalist based in Paris. After receiving a degree in international business, Geai turned her attention to journalism, first in television then...

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