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HEALTH

New cases of Coronavirus emerge in Dordogne after ‘dozens attend funeral gathering’

Several new cases of coronavirus have been detected in the southwestern French region of Dordogne that have been linked to a gathering after a funeral service.

New cases of Coronavirus emerge in Dordogne after 'dozens attend funeral gathering'
Photo: SEBASTIEN SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Authorities suspect the virus was spread after dozens of people attended a gathering after funeral service in contravention of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. 

According to France Blue radio the funeral service was attended by 20, the maximum allowed under current restrictions but a gathering at the family house after the service “was attended by tens of people”.

The cases emerged after one person in Dordogne tested positive for the virus on April 30th in the small village of Vegt.

Health authorities for the Nouvelle Aquitaine region (ARS) tracked the patient's movements and the people they had been contact with.

It emerged during their investigation that the patient had attended the funeral service and gathering in the village of Eglise-Neuve-de-Vergt at the end of April.

IN PICTURES: France prepares to lift its lockdown

After testing more than 100 people, authorities found eight confirmed cases of the virus. Each of those who tested positive had no symptoms of the virus and none are considered in a serious condition.

Dordogne like much of the south west of France has largely been free of the epidemic which has mainly hit the Paris region and northern and eastern France.

But the small outbreak comes just days before France will begin easing restrictions, put in place on March 17th.

Local radio prefect of Dordogne Frédéric Périssat denounced the breach of lockdown restrictions, telling media outlet BFM TV “this is really an illustration of what we don't want in the weeks to come”.

“It's a case of slackening off,” said the prefect.

Authorities in Dordgone are continuing to trace anyone who may have had contact with those who were infected, with full results to be known on Sunday. 

Since March 17th French people have been confined to their homes and only allowed to go outside for essential reasons such as shopping. All kinds of gatherings have been banned and even after May 11th they will be limited to 10 people in public and private as the government bids to prevent a second wave of the epidemic. 

Authorities in Dordogne are due to hold a press conference on Saturday afternoon to reveal more details of the cases.

 

Member comments

  1. We have the same problem in our village. The people concerned seem to think the laws don’t apply to them and it’s just a laugh.

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HEALTH

Carte vitale: France to adopt a new ‘biometric’ health card

The French parliament has approved a €20 million project to launch a 'biometric' version of the carte vitale health insurance card.

Carte vitale: France to adopt a new 'biometric' health card

As part of the French government’s package of financial aid for the cost-of-living crisis, €20 million will be set set aside to launch a biometric health card, after an amendment proposed by senators was approved.

Right-wing senators made this measure a “condition” of their support for the financial aid package, according to French left-wing daily Libération, and on Thursday the measure was approved by the Assemblée nationale.

While it sounds quite high tech, the idea is relatively simple, according to centre-right MP Thibault Bazin: the carte vitale would be equipped with a chip that “contains physical characteristics of the insured, such as their fingerprints” which would allow healthcare providers to identify them.

The carte vitale is the card that allows anyone registered in the French health system to be reimbursed for medical costs such as doctor’s appointments, medical procedures and prescriptions. The card is linked to the patient’s bank account so that costs are reimbursed directly into the bank account, usually within a couple of days.

READ ALSO How a carte vitale works and how to get one

According to the centre-right Les Républicains group, the reason for having a ‘biometric’ carte vitale is to fight against welfare fraud.

They say this would have two functions; firstly the biometric data would ensure the card could only be used by the holder, and secondly the chip would allow for instant deactivation if the card was lost of stolen.

Support for the biometric carte vitale has mostly been concentrated with right-wing representatives, however, opponants say that the implementation of the tool would be costly and lengthy.

It would involve replacing at least 65 million cards across France and repurposing them with biometric chips, in addition to taking fingerprints for all people concerned.

Additionally, all healthcare professionals would have to join the new system and be equipped with devices capable of reading fingerprints. 

Left-leaning representatives have also voiced concerns regarding the protection of personal data and whether plans would comply with European regulations for protecting personal data, as the creation of ‘biometric’ carte vitales would inevitably lead to the creation of a centralised biometric database. Additionally, there are concerns regarding whether this sensitive personal information could be exposed to cybercrime, as the health insurance system in France has been targeted by hackers in the past.

Finally, there is concern that the amount of financial loss represented by carte vitale fraud has been overestimated. The true figures are difficult to establish, but fraud related to carte vitale use is only a small part of general welfare fraud, which also covers unemployment benefits and other government subsidy schemes.

The scheme is set to begin in the autumn, but there us no information on how this will be done, and whether the biometric chip will just be added to new cards, or whether existing cards will be replaced with new ones. 

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