While watching the videos from Florida, where religious maniacs denounce the health authorities by explaining that wearing a mask is an attack on their divine capacity to breathe, some of us laughed nervously. Others nodded: “This country is completely barred.” It will not have taken a month to understand that we have nothing to envy in the United States, and that we have the same enlightened. They call euthanasia fascists those who try to protect them. They denounce the wearing of the mask as a liberticide measure. (We dare not tell them about the seatbelt or the condom…) They are petitioning against wearing a mask which would cause a reduction in cerebral oxygenation (surgeons will appreciate this recent discovery which certainly explains operating theater accidents). Damn it but it is of course, how did we not think about it earlier, let’s give the Nobel Prize in medicine to doctor Nicole Delépine, who invokes Riposte laïque to pour out her delusional gall …
The Covid, it seems to start again. As in 14. It does not amuse me to write it. I would have liked to be wrong. I would have liked to be able to celebrate those who on the sets for a month explain that there is a group immunity much more important than we think, who hammer that the epidemic will not start again in the regions where it has already raged , which we will always have time to see coming anyway. I would have loved them to have seen correctly, like at the end of February for a few hours, by watching and reviewing the first video by Didier Raoult “Coronavirus: end of the game”, where I hoped, very briefly, that the Marseille druid would have right. But in the end, intuition is good, if you have enough humility to constantly doubt yourself.
“Do you see nothing coming?”
Thanks to this “pandemic journal”, I have been led since mid-March to contact dozens of caregivers whom I did not know, generalists, emergency physicians, resuscitators, paramedics, nurses, physiotherapists, palliative care doctors, of Ehpad. And, on condition of anonymity, they are kind enough to respond to my weekly requests … “Anne, my sister Anne, can’t you see anything coming?” “I only see the dusting sun and the green grass”, answers Anne in the blue Beard by Charles Perrault. And for a few weeks, at my request “Do you see weak signals of a return to the pandemic?”, I only got negative responses. A few rare clusters well identified and managed, and that’s it. Nothing detectable, at my low level, in the general population. And then last week it started to thrill.
Read also Previous episodes from Christian Lehmann’s epidemic journal
I waited with a certain concern, in view of what was happening elsewhere, in the United States, in Florida, what I nicknamed “the Seaside Covid”, the arrival of urban summer vacationers determined to give themselves good time, to decompress from confinement, on their vacation spots. These cities where, the discos being closed, the summer visitors found themselves in crowded bars, or in private parties, perfect vectors of contamination by aerosolization. It was one of the elements that led us, a few colleagues and me, to launch the platform asking the government to take its responsibilities, and to make the wearing of masks compulsory in a closed, poorly ventilated place. It has been more than three months since this risk has been discussed in medical circles and the methods of transmission have been deciphered. For months we gradually understand that indirect contaminations, by manipulation of objects, are exceptional or even non-existent, but that on the other hand, infected people, even asymptomatic, speaking, singing, breathing strongly in an unventilated place can infect many people by creating a cloud of viral particles which remains in suspension if no movement of air disperses it. These contaminations take place at first with low noise as they affect young healthy subjects. But they can then suddenly be a problem if several infected, even slightly symptomatic, find themselves in the same confined space. To put it clearly, in reference to the ecumenical gathering in Mulhouse, these are less supercontaminating patients than supercontaminating places.
Read also Jean-François Delfraissy: “Risk is a gathering with supercontaminators”
This week, even when our platform was published asking the government to make it mandatory to wear a mask in a closed place, while the petition launched on change.org reached 70,000 signatures, my contacts in the territory changed my mind. Here clusters, here a person tested positive a few days after arriving by plane in mainland France, here a company employing precarious workers contaminated in mass, many of whom had continued to work, despite the disease. I have received many testimonies, which certainly have no statistical value, but I have understood that the situation has changed. What is more, almost all my contacts asked me for absolute confidentiality, and I understood that instructions had been given at ministerial level apparently not to cause panic … Some departmental councils of the Order, apparently, attest to this in a low voice.
At the same time, Emmanuel Macron finally declared himself for the compulsory wearing of the mask in a closed place … but only in public places (the economy has to start again, no question of annoying businesses), and in two weeks (the start -up nation is fair play, it leaves the coronavirus a few steps ahead for its return). Two days later, Olivier Véran went on television, serious, to say that he was collecting weak signals of viral recovery, and the date of obligation to wear the mask was advanced by one week. “Anne, my sister Anne, can’t you see anything coming?” I only see the feasting virus, and the government that is messing up …
It seems to start again. As in 14. And we do not have enough testing possibilities, the time to be tested and receive a response has lengthened, the Covid centers have mostly been closed in the absence of ARS funding.
My goal, that of the petition writers, is not to panic but to warn you. To do everything possible to protect those who find themselves forced to take risks, in the business where they work, within their company. Avoid regional reconfigurations. We are not here to spoil your summer. Go out, live, enjoy life (spoiler: we enjoy life much better with a mask than with an intubation probe). Wear masks as soon as you are in a crowd, and when you enter an enclosed place open to the public: a shop, a cinema, a bar, a museum. But also, and this is where the shoe pinches, at work, in open spaces, or offices without natural ventilation (reason why we maintain the petition and call to continue to sign it). Protect yourself. Live with the windows open.
Christian Lehmann doctor and writer