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HEALTH

‘A glass of wine a day’: French nun turns 117 after surviving Covid

Europe's oldest person, French nun Sister André, turns 117 on Thursday after surviving Covid-19 last month and living through two world wars, with a special birthday feast including her favourite dessert - Baked Alaska.

'A glass of wine a day': French nun turns 117 after surviving Covid
"Be brave and show compassion," Sister André, 117, urged young people. Photo: AFP

Born Lucile Randon on February 11th, 1904, Sister André said she didn't realise she had caught the coronavirus, which infected 81 residents of her retirement home in the southeast city of Toulon, killing 10 of them.

“I'm told that I got it,” the nun told AFP ahead of her birthday. “I was very tired, it's true, but I didn't realise it.”

But David Tavella, spokesman for the Sainte-Catherine-Laboure nursing home, said she had “experienced a triple confinement: in her wheelchair, in her room and without a visit”.

“So her birthday, it reinvigorates us,” he added, following the deadly outbreak.

Sister André said she was not going to do anything special for her 117th birthday but the home is planning a celebration for her.

There will be a special mass at the home, which has a dozen nuns, and the chef is preparing a birthday feast of foie gras, capon fillet with porcini mushrooms and Sister André's favourite dessert: baked Alaska, washed down with a glass of port.

She says her favourite food is lobster and she enjoys a glass of wine.

“I drink a small glass of wine every day,” she said.

Born in Ales in a Protestant family, she grew up as the only girl among three brothers.

One of her fondest memories was the return of two of her brothers at the end of World War I.

“It was rare, in families, there were usually two dead rather than two alive. They both came back,” she told AFP last year, on her 116th birthday.

She converted to Catholicism and was baptised at the age of 26. She joined the Daughters of Charity order of nuns at the relatively late age of 41.

Sister André was then assigned to a hospital in Vichy, where she worked for 31 years and then spent 30 years in a retirement home in the French Alps before moving to Toulon.

She is the second-oldest living person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, after Japanese woman Kane Tanaka, who is 118.

Asked what she would say to young people, Sister André said: “Be brave and show compassion.”

Member comments

  1. What’s with the French and their Foie Gras?
    Her definition of the word “small” (glass of wine.) And port. And? And? And? Sure! 🙂
    Good for her!

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COVID-19

France scraps compulsory self-isolation after positive Covid test

France's public health body has outlined how Covid-19 rules will change 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 will relax in France as the country ends 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 will take 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 will return to normal on February 1st – this means that those who test positive for Covid-19 will 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 will begin in 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.

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