Temporary morgue in Paris market hall closes as Covid-19 death rate falls

French police have closed down the temporary morgue in a Paris food market, as the steady decline in coronavirus deaths has seen funeral companies able to take control over the situation.

Temporary morgue in Paris market hall closes as Covid-19 death rate falls
Photo: AFPThe Rungis market covers a 24 hectare site on the outskirts of Paris. Photo: AFP

Paris police on Saturday closed down the temporary morgue in the Rungis food hall – the famous fresh food market just south of Paris.

“Funeral operators in Île-de-France are once again able to take care of all the bodies of the deceased (in the region),” the police said in a statement.

Île-de-France, the densely populated region enclosing the French capital, was especially hard hit by the novel coronavirus, which caused such a rapid increase in the number of daily deaths.

With a capacity of up to 20,000 coffins, the Rungis morgue played a crucial role in alleviating pressure on the region's funeral agencies during the height of the coronavirus epidemic.

READ ALSO: Paris police requisition hall at Rungis food market to store bodies of coronavirus victims

The morgue had not received new bodies since May 13th, according to France Info.

After France imposed a strict nationwide lockdown on March 17th, the country managed to slowly curb the coronavirus infection rates, along with the number of critically ill in the country's hospital and the death rates.

The past few weeks, the country's health authorities have reported low numbers of daily deaths in the countries hospitals.

On Sunday, 13 people died in hospital from Covid-19. On Saturday the number was 31, on Friday it was 46. After problems with timely data, deaths in care homes are now being reported weekly.

READ ALSO: France identifies 150 coronavirus clusters, many in health centres and hospitals

Rungis food market is a vast site that usually supplies wholesalers and restaurants, but several sections closed during the nationwide lockdown. It continued to offer home deliveries of fresh fruit and vegetables to people in the Paris area.

The food hall also served as a temporary morgue during the 2003 heatwave in which thousands of Parisians, most of them elderly, died. 

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France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body outlined how Covid-19 rules changed starting on February 1st, including an end to compulsory self-isolation after a positive test result.

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

Starting on February 1st, Covid rules relaxed in France as the country brought an end to compulsory isolation for those who test positive for the virus.

However, those travelling from China to France will still be required to agree to a random screening upon arrival and to isolate in the case of a positive Covid-19 test result. Travellers aged 11 and over coming from China must also provide a negative test result (less tan 48 hours) prior to boarding and those aged six and over must agree to wear a mask on board flights. These regulations – which was set to last until January 31st – is set to remain in place until February 15th.

The French public health body (The Direction générale de la santé or DGS)  announced the change on Saturday in a decree published in the “Journal Officiel” outlining the various ways the body will loosen previous coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: What Covid rules and recommendations remain for visiting France?

Those who were in contact with someone who tested positive – ie a contact cases – will also no longer be required to take a test, though the public health body stressed that both testing after contact and isolating after receiving a positive test remain recommended.

Previously, even asymptomatic people who had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 were required to test on the second day after being notified that they were a “contact-case”.

These changes took effect on February 1st.

READ MORE: What changes in France in February 2023?

The DGS also said that website SI-DEP, which records test results, will remain in operation until June 30th, however starting in February it will only collect personal data with the express permission of the patient.

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Additionally, the French government announced that sick leave procedures for people with Covid-19 would return to normal starting February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 now also have the three-day wait period before daily sick benefits are required to be paid, as is usually the case. Previously, people with Covid-19 could expect daily sick benefits to begin at the start of their sick leave period (arrêt maladie in French).  

READ MORE: How sick leave pay in France compares to other countries in Europe

Covid tests are still available on walk-in basis from most pharmacies are are free to people who are fully vaccinated and registered in the French health system. Unvaccinated people, or visitors to France, have to pay up to a maximum of €22 for an antigen test of €49 for a PCR test. 

If you recently tested positive for Covid-19 in France – or you suspect you may have contracted Covid-19 – you can find some information for how to proceed here.

In explaining the changes that began at the start of February, the French public health body also noted a drop in Covid-19 infections in the past month. As of January 30th, approximately 3,800 people in France had tested positive in the previous 24 hours for the coronavirus – which represents a decrease from the averages of 20,000 new cases per day about one month ago.