Culture under lockdown in Paris: When the opera comes to you

In this edition we discover a very special type of concert. With venues closed due to Covid-19, classical musicians are bringing their art to the courtyards of Parisians, as our team reports. We also look at several symbols of France, including the famous “baguette”. We see what makes it so special and why the French are campaigning for it to be included in the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. Meanwhile, the Château de Versailles, another symbol of French culture and history, is welcoming back the luxurious desk of Louis XVI after two years of restoration. 


Paris medics fear worst of COVID wave still to come

In the COVID-19 intensive care unit of the Antony Private Hospital south of Paris, no bed stays free for long and medics wonder when their workload will finally peak.

As one recovered elderly patient is being wheeled out of the ward, smiling weakly, boss Jean-Pierre Deyme is on the phone arranging the next arrival and calling out instructions to staff.

Louisa Pinto, a nurse of nearly 20 years’ experience, gestures to the vacated room where a cleaner is already at work, scrubbing down the mattress for the next arrival.

“The bed won’t even have time to cool down,” she says as the patient monitoring system beeps constantly in the background.

For now, everything is stable in the 20-odd beds around her where COVID-19 victims lie inanimate, in a silent battle with the virus.

Paris is going through a third wave of the pandemic which risks putting even more strain on saturated hospitals than the first wave in March and April last year.

“With what’s coming in April, it’s going to be very complicated,” says Pinto, a mother of three who hasn’t had a holiday since last summer and like other staff will be cancelling a planned break this month [ . . . ]

Continue at Medical Xpress: Paris medics fear worst of COVID wave still to come

France’s lockdown vice? Cheese

French households feasted on cheese last year as they turned to home cooking and sought gastronomic comfort during coronavirus lockdowns that shuttered the restaurant trade.

The amount of cheese purchased by French shoppers for at-home consumption increased by more than 8% in 2020, compared with just 2% the previous year, according to figures from farming agency FranceAgriMer and market data firm Kantar.

That was part of a shift in food consumption in many countries last year as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, with households initially bulk buying staples like pasta and flour, and later settling into home-eating habits with extra purchases of products like butter.

In France, mozzarella saw the steepest rise in demand among major cheese categories, with a 21% volume jump, followed by a 12% increase for raclette – a winter favourite eaten melted with potatoes and cured meats. Continue reading “France’s lockdown vice? Cheese”

Covid variants are sign of hope says leading French doctor

Covid variants are sign of hope says leading French doctor

By Joanna York

A leading French doctor has said that the emergence of new Covid variants could be a sign of “hope”, as immunity against the virus grows.

Professor Bruno Lina, virologist and member of national health advisory board le Conseil scientifique, spoke to news source FranceInfo yesterday.

He said that increasing immunity due to vaccinations and prior infections was “starting” to impact the spread of the virus, and new variants could be seen as a sign of the Covid-19 virus trying to survive.

He said: “If [the virus] wants to continue to spread within the human population, it has to adapt and evolve.

“That is what it is doing now.”

Virus will not completely disappear

The professor said that while the Covid-19 virus would not completely disappear, it would become less significant over time.

He said: “At a given moment, the potential for the virus to evolve will come to an end.

“At that point, it will join the ranks of other banal seasonal viruses that cause colds and other infections which are not serious.”

UK variant now dominant in France

Covid variants have been partially blamed for the health situation worsening in 20 departments in France in recent weeks.

The UK variant now accounts for 60% of Covid cases nationally.

Specialists have said that the highly contagious strain could become the only variant in circulation by the end of March.

And new strains are still emerging, such as the New York variant, which has been identified in 15 US states since it was first detected in November 2020.

But Professor Lina said the emergence of new variants is a positive sign.

He said: “It’s an element of hope.”

“We are maybe in a phase in which the virus has finished evolving, which means we are coming to the end of the pandemic phase, and will enter into a phase in which circulation of the virus is much lower.”

Source: Covid variants are sign of hope says leading French doctor

Illegal French New Year’s Eve party that drew 2,500 ends after 36 hours and a failed attempt to shut it down

Regional authorities set up a coronavirus testing site near the party location and urged all participants to quarantine for seven days.

Continue at WASHINGTON POST: Illegal French New Year’s Eve party that drew 2,500 ends after 36 hours and a failed attempt to shut it down – The Washington Post