MSF started activities in response to COVID-19 in France, focusing on vulnerable people living in the streets, such as migrants. On March 24th, 700 people were evacuated from a vacant lot in Aubervilliers near Paris, where they were living in precarious conditions. They were dispatched on various emergency shelters located in Paris and Ile de France. MSF teams are deployed in some of these shelters to evaluate their health and identify potential COVID-19 cases.
The Paris Regional Health Authority is struggling and has asked MSF for help. The authority is responsible for supplying the test kits yet it doesn’t provide consistent screening because the country doesn’t have enough tests.
Take the case of this gym. We have got five test kits and there are 600 people in 6 shelters. So clearly, it is not enough. All the medical organisations are struggling to cope due to the lack of resources and equipment. Mobile MSF teams are now assisting medical organisations in emergency shelters in Paris and Seine Saint Denis.
People had been living in extremely tough conditions, confined in an area with no water supply or access to showers, toilets and food distributions. The week preceding their removal they had be even more isolated because the police wanted to prevent them from leaving the site. These vulnerable people are now confined in emergency accommodation requisitioned by the authorities. © Agnes Varraine-Leca/MSF.
Taking care of the homeless is important. They are already vulnerable and, with the coronavirus epidemic, they are in an even worse situation because it is almost impossible for them to observe the hygiene measures needed to protect their health. © Agnes Varraine-Leca/MSF
Bastien Mollo, MSF doctor, is examining people evacuated from the camp. © Agnes Varraine-Leca/MSF
The homeless community probably going to stay in the gym until the epidemic’s over. Then, it will be back to business as usual, with the same old system and problems of access to the asylum process. © Agnes Varraine-Leca/MSF