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Covid-19 abroad: Europe’s first recorded case – how France has handled the coronavirus pandemic

With the French government currently refraining from imposing a third national lockdown, David Doyle speaks to Amandine Verbiese, a French native who has experienced one of the most calamitous periods of the country’s history
Map of Bordeaux from Google Maps. Screenshot by David Doyle

On 24 January 2020, the first European case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the French city of Bordeaux. This marked the starting point of an on-going pandemic, that still affects the country today. Due to a high population with leading touristic figures throughout the world, cases began to surge across France.  

In early March, Amandine Verbiese returned to her native home of France, after living in Ireland for 5 years. Upon making her homecoming, France was on the cusp of becoming one of Europe’s worst affected countries, as there are over 3.4 million positive Covid-19 cases recorded today. 

France officially went into a national lockdown on 16 March, as President Emmanuel Macron announced in a televised address that only essential services would remain open and a stay-at-home quarantine would be implemented. 

“I just don’t know when this is going to end’’ 

Amandine Verbiese

‘’The first [lockdown] was particularly tough. When we left our house, we had to fill out a document giving our reasons for travel, whether it was going to work or walking the dog’’, said Verbiese. 

She tells me how important it was to provide documentation during the first lockdown, as those who didn’t may receive a large fine or potential imprisonment if breached multiple times.  

Verbiese has turned to gaming online as a coping mechanism during the pandemic. She is involved in numerous online communities and keeps in contact with her friends and family through video calls. 

The coming weeks will prove vital for France as the existing health minister Oliver Veran is assessing the country’s current situation, as another lockdown may potentially be on the cards – due to the daily hospital admission figures of 1,500 over the past few weeks. 

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