SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

Fury over ‘wall of shame’ built to block Paris crack users

A wall erected to keep crack users from entering a Paris suburb has drawn outrage, forcing the government to promise new responses to a long-running drugs scourge.

Fury over 'wall of shame' built to block Paris crack users
The wall blocking a route from Paris to Pantin. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Authorities bricked up a tunnel under the Paris ring road leading to the northeastern suburb of Pantin over the weekend after clearing dozens of crack smokers from a park in the area.

Several residents of Pantin and the neighbouring suburb of Aubervilliers slammed the so-called “wall of shame”. They demanded that the government find a permanent solution to Paris’s decades-old drugs problem to prevent it spilling over into low-income suburbs.

Pantin mayor Bertrand Kern called the government’s decision “shameful and irresponsible” and asked for an emergency meeting with Prime Minister Jean Castex.

“It’s by nature a temporary solution for an emergency situation, and does not satisfy anyone,” Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti admitted to RTL radio on Monday.

He said the government was working “very seriously” on how to deal with the insecurity caused by crack addicts in Paris, a problem that reached a tipping point earlier this year when disgruntled residents began shooting powerful fireworks at users or pelting them with eggs.

In a letter to Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo seen by AFP, Paris police chief Didier Lallement said that addicts had been expelled from a park on Friday because their presence “near several schools” had become “untenable”.

He added that the wall was a “necessary protection for the residents of Pantin,” which is part of the Seine-Saint-Denis department, one of the poorest in France.

Lallement and Hidalgo have crossed swords repeatedly over the Socialist mayor’s request for more supervised drug use sites, a proposition rejected by many on the right.

So far just one is open in the capital, and Hidalgo was forced to abandon plans for a new one in eastern Paris this month after an uproar from residents.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

HEALTH

First suspected case of monkeypox reported in France

France reported its first suspected case of monkeypox on Thursday, after cases of the virus were reported in several neighbouring countries.

First suspected case of monkeypox reported in France

A first suspected case of monkeypox in France was reported in the Paris area on Thursday, the country’s direction générale de la santé has said, two weeks after a first case of the virus in Europe was discovered in the UK.

Since that first case was reported on May 6th, more than 30 other cases have been confirmed in Spain, Portugal, the UK, Sweden, Canada and the USA.

Here we explain what is known about the viral disease.

Why is it called monkeypox?

The virus was first identified in 1958 in laboratory monkeys – which is where the name comes from – but rodents are now considered the probable main animal host.

It is mainly observed in isolated areas of central and western Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, with the first case in humans reported in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Why is it in the news?

Monkeypox does not usually spread beyond Western and Central Africa. It is the first time, for example, it has been identified in Spain or Portugal.

It is believed the relaxing of Covid-19 travel rules have allowed the virus to spread further than usual.

The first case in the UK was reported on May 6th, in a patient who had recently travelled to Nigeria. But in the eight cases reported since, several had no connection to each other, and none had recently travelled, prompting experts to believe a number of cases have gone unreported.

Scientists are now working to find out if those cases are linked. 

What are the symptoms?

Initially, the infected patient experiences fever, headache, muscle pain, inflammation of the lymph node, backache and severe fatigue. Then pimples appear, first on the face, then in the palms of the hands and on the soles of the feet. The mucous membranes of the mouth, genitals and cornea may also be affected. 

It has been described by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as similar but less serious than smallpox. In most cases, symptoms disappear in two to three weeks and the patient makes a full recovery.

There are two known strains of the virus: the more severe Congo strain and the West African strain. UK cases reported to date have been the West African strain.

How is it transmitted?

Monkeypox is most often transmitted to humans by infected rodents or primates through direct contact with blood, body fluids, or skin or mucous membrane lesions of these animals. 

Human-to-human transmission occurs primarily through respiratory droplet particles during prolonged contact. But contamination can come from close contact with skin lesions of an infected individual or from objects, such as bedding, recently contaminated with biological fluids or materials from a patient’s lesions.

More severe cases are related to the length of time patients are exposed to the virus, their state of health, and whether the virus leads to other health complications. 

Young children are more sensitive to this virus.

Can it be treated?

There is no specific treatment or preventive vaccine against monkeypox – and the huge majority of patients recover fully with appropriate care.

Smallpox vaccination was effective in the past at also providing protection from monkeypox, but with that disease considered eradicated, people are no longer vaccinated against it, which has allowed monkeypox to spread once again. 

Should we be worried?

Experts have said that we’re not going to see the virus reach epidemic levels.

“There is no evidence that human-to-human transmission alone can maintain monkeypox in the human population,” the WHO has said.

SHOW COMMENTS