7:55 p.m. April 7, 2020.
(Updated at 9:42 p.m. April 7, 2020)
The number of people who died in France after contracting a coronavirus has exceeded 10,000.
Across the country, 10,328 people died with COVID-19, an increase of 1,417 in the past 24 hours.
A nation that had started hoping to have some sort of grip on the coronavirus the pandemic is now faced with the fact that deaths continue to increase at a fierce rate.
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The nervousness is felt everywhere. In the big cities, the industrial cities, but also in the quiet corners of the country, like Cornimont.
At another time, it would be a place straight out of a tourist brochure, a beautiful old village with cobblestone streets and a beautiful church in the heart of a sunny valley in eastern France.
But it’s way too calm here. Even by the standards of France, a country with strict locking rules, Cornimont has the feel of a ghost town, where people hurry past, head down, hugging the piece of paper that explains why they’re out from their homes.
This region, Grand Est, has recorded more than 2,000 deaths attributed to the coronavirus.
Many of the roots of the French pandemic can be traced in the cities of this region, and its effect is already evident. There is nervous nervousness here.
Cassandra Thiebaut is a caregiver who visits the elderly at home in and around the village. She stops at the bakery between visits, a mask covering much of her face.
She has contracted the virus, as have many residents. One of his clients died.
“Just keep going,” she says. “But despite all the hygienic precautions that we take, these people are fragile and it only takes one mistake, then things deteriorate quickly. “
Cornimont has good reasons to know this fragility of life. Exit the village for just a few minutes and you arrive at the Couarôge nursing home, a large, rounded building which is situated on a vantage point overlooking the valley.
There is room for 115 people in this house. In the past month, 25 people have died as the virus passed from person to person.
We speak to the manager, Sophie Vinel, in front of the entrance. She says the speed at which the coronavirus infected the house was overwhelming. Those with symptoms were isolated, but in some cases it became clear that they would not survive.
Families were not allowed to visit until death was imminent. Even then, loved ones had to wear full protective coveralls when they arrived at the patient’s bedside in the last hour or so.
“It is so difficult, so difficult to see so many residents caught by this virus,” explains Ms. Vinel. “For the staff to see so many dead. We just can’t believe it. “
Behind her, through the window, we can see a frail man crossing the main living room of the house. He takes the last copy of the local newspaper and, reading each word, pulls his finger from the list of dead. It is a long and painful process.
The French Ministry of Health spent weeks announcing the number of people who died from the virus in hospital, but clearly did not include those who died in nursing homes in its official statistics.
Now the statistics have changed in an austere and bleak way. Thousands of deaths, in homes like Couarôge, have now been added.
For Cornimont and other villages like this, it is a crisis that will leave death, disease and fear in its wake. And also a chronic feeling of discomfort. Here, as in the rest of the world, they will wonder when this virus will return.
“How will our village and the whole country get up after this?” Said the mayor, Marie-Joseph Clément.
“Even on a global scale. How can we ever recover? I just don’t know. “
In the background, a siren sounds – an ambulance. Another ambulance, once again breaking the peace of a village wondering if it will ever be the same again.