France. April 5, 2020. We are witnessing a real explosion in the number of deaths in Seine-Saint-Denis: between March 21 and 27, deaths jumped by +63% compared to the week before. For the first time since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic, the authorities published figures on Friday showing an “exceptional excess of mortality” in Seine-Saint-Denis, the poorest territory in mainland France, where “overwhelmed” undertakers say they “have never seen anything like it”. Why?
Originally published by Nantes Révoltée. Translated by Enough 14.
1. MORE INHABITANTS –
“In Seine-Saint-Denis , district 93, there are more deaths because there are more infected people, quite simple,” says Frédéric Adnet, head of Samu 93 . In this department of 1.6 million inhabitants, one of the most densely populated in France, “the virus circulates much more easily than elsewhere,” he adds. Many people in working-class neighbourhoods often live in small apartments. The population density is high in small areas.
2. PRECARITY –
Many of the poorest and most precarious inhabitants are forced to expose themselves, to continue to work, because of their profession or status. “In our patient base, there are a lot of nurses, home care workers and rest home workers,” who will be “very exposed,” explains a coordinator of a health centre. Not to mention “the cashiers, the delivery people”. In short, suburbanites are often on the front line.
3. VIOLATION OF CONFINEMENT?
This is the scandalous statement made by the Prefect of Paris. But in reality, “The people who went into intensive care this week are people who were infected with the disease before the confinement”, according to the ARS Ile de France , which rejects the hypothesis. In the department, the rules of confinement are, “as elsewhere, generally well respected”, despite a more difficult situation.
4. INEQUALITY OF HEALTH –
“Containment is complicated in impoverished areas like ours, where there are a lot of big families in small apartments, hostels for migrant workers, shanty towns,” says an emergency doctor from the 93 district. “We know that infectious diseases hit the most vulnerable people the hardest because they are easier to transmit and harder to monitor. The doctors at “Place Santé”, a community health centre located in the heart of the “Cité des Francs-Moisins” in Saint-Denis, say the same thing. “The impression we have is that the epidemic will be exacerbated in working-class neighbourhoods where health inequalities already exist,” says the centre’s coordinator, Gwenaëlle Ferré, who counts “several outbreaks with several cases” of coronavirus. There is also “a weaker health system that affects access to care” and the fact that there are “fewer doctors and fewer intensive care beds” in the 93 district. Only 42 beds per 10,000 inhabitants, compared with, for example, 77 per 10,000 inhabitants in Paris.
Behind the Coronavirus, there is social war: the poorest are suffering while the richest have left for their secondary homes and will have better access to care.
 Seine-Saint-Denis is a French department (93) located in the Île-de-France region and in the Grand Paris. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seine-Saint-Denis
 Samu 93 is a hospital in Bobigny, France.
 The ARS Ile-de-France implements regional health policy, in coordination with partners and taking into account the specific characteristics of the region. https://www.iledefrance.ars.sante.fr/
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