Returning to France after stays in China or Italy, French people have told the “World” of the not very restrictive conditions of their return in the face of the risk of coronavirus transmission.
Adrien is about to begin his third quarantine period in less than six weeks. An employee of a large French company in Shanghai, who has been expatriated to China for nearly ten years, he was initially confined for about twenty days in China at the end of January when the first wave of coronavirus spread was announced in the country.
Repatriated to France at the suggestion of his employer, Adrien then decided to stay in a “fortnight” by being confined to his home when he arrived in Paris on 10 February. By 6 March, he is expected to return to Shanghai, again accompanied by his company, to resume work. On his return to China, he will have to observe a third period of home confinement before he can go to the office.
A succession of precautionary measures reflecting the management of the epidemic in the different parts of the world where it is spreading: “From China’s point of view, both France and Italy are now considered to be risk areas,” says the thirty-year-old on the phone. On Wednesday 3 March, the death toll was 52 in Italy and three in France, two countries considered to be the main coronavirus outbreaks in Europe.
Lack of clear instructions
If Adrien has multiplied the periods of isolation as he has come and gone, other French nationals who have returned to France after stays in China or Italy express, in response to a call for testimony from Le Monde, their feeling of having to manage by themselves in the absence of clear instructions upon their arrival on the territory.
On the government’s website dedicated to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the instructions of the authorities no longer require, as was the case before March 1, travellers returning from an area considered “at risk” to respect a fourteen-day containment, considering this measure unnecessary since the virus now circulates in France.
However, they encourage certain precautionary measures: “Avoid places where fragile people are present (hospitals, maternity wards, accommodation facilities for the elderly, etc.); avoid all non-essential outings (large gatherings, restaurants, cinemas, etc.),” explain the authorities, before specifying that workers and students of all ages can go to their workplace and to school.
But it is still necessary to take the step of getting informed. Returning to Lyon on 27 February from holidays in Venice, Patricia Deboevere was surprised to receive no recommendation from the authorities. “When I passed the customs service at the airport, I thought, ‘they’re going to be able to tell us that the virus hasn’t crossed the border,'” she worried, lamenting having had to estimate for herself the risk of spreading the disease to her family and friends.
Ms Deboevere has since taken the decision to limit her movements outside her home. She has also refused to babysit her grandchildren and welcomes any guests in her home wearing surgical masks. “I do it out of responsibility for the people around me, but in fact anyone can happily do what they want,” she says.