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HEALTH

French naturopath charged with manslaughter over ‘fasting’ courses

A French naturopath with a large internet following has been charged with manslaughter over the death of a woman who has been following one of his programmes of fasting.

French naturopath charged with manslaughter over 'fasting' courses
Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP

Eric Gandon, a naturopath from Indre-et-Loire, was indicted on Thursday for manslaughter, abuse of weakness, endangering the lives of others and illegal exercise of the professions of doctor and pharmacist, said the Tours prosecutor in a statement.

The charges relate to the death of a 44-year-old woman in 2021 during one of Gandon’s naturopathy courses.

Gandon, 58, has a large YouTube following but in 2020 he hired a chateau in Noyant-de-Touraine (Indre-et-Loire) in which he staged courses for paying guests which involved prolonged fasting and ingesting only water. 

“These training courses invoiced several hundreds, even thousands of euros, not including accommodations costs, for around twenty participants, over durations of one to six weeks”, prosecutor Grégoire Dulin told French media.

Following the death of the 44-year-old woman in August 2021, a judicial investigation was opened and the local préfecture suspended further courses from Gandon.

The investigation has now passed to the Office central pour la répression des violences aux personnes (central office for the repression of violence against the person), which has identified four other possible victims, two of whom have subsequently died.

Gandon’s son, who assisted with the fasting courses and his father’s YouTube channel, has also been charged with the illegal exercise of the profession of doctor or pharmacist. If convicted, the pair face up to three years in jail and fines of €375,000.

Following news of the charges, France’s citizenship minister issued a warning about the dangers of unlicensed and unregulated alternative health practitioners, which she said had increased significantly during the pandemic.

Sonia Backès said: “It is essential that the French are better informed about the significant risks to their health when they participate in this type of training course supervised by charlatans who take advantage of their fragility to enrich themselves.

“I understand the distress that some people may feel when faced with their medical situation, but it is essential that they do not abandon traditional care, which is the only way to cure them.

“This work of raising public awareness must be carried out in a collective manner. Therefore, I call on the media and digital platforms to show the greatest responsibility in this endeavour.”

She also announced that the Interior Ministry will organise the first conference on alternative practitioners in order to draw up a strategy to deal with the issue. In France, although doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals are tightly regulated, alternative practitioners generally have no State registration or licensing system.

The case comes just a few months after the medical platform Doctolib announced that it would no longer list naturopaths on its website or app.  

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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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