Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
An idyllic French island has been plunged into crisis after an influx of wealthy people from Paris travelling to their second homes there brought a spike in coronavirus cases.
The island of Noirmoutier in the Bay of Biscay reportedly saw its population almost double to 20,000 as lockdown measures were announced in France.
Reports say that the islanders were worried about the COVID-19 being brought to the island by the non-permanent residents who had been particularly exposed to the virus.
Nearly two weeks after France’s nationwide lockdown came into effect on 17th March, there are around 70 suspected cases of COVID-19 on the island.
Noel Faucher, Mayor of the island said: “We were powerless because people were not confined to their principal residences,” describing the influx as “an invasion.”
Dr Cyrille Vartanian, one of the six physicians on Noirmoutier described the incident as “Irresponsible and selfish.”
According to reports, the island is currently suffering from a lack of healthcare personnel, because it was not ready to receive so many people before the summer.
One islander said: “You should know that in Noirmoutier, we are in the white zone: it is almost a medical desert. The island is not structured to accommodate so many people suddenly.”
According to reports, after their mass arrival, the non-permanent residents rushed to the supermarkets to stock up on supplies, emptying all the shelves and leaving only Italian pasta for the local population.
Reports say that some of these newly arrived secondary residents complained because a gardening supplies shop was closed.
Another resident of the island said: “I understand that some of them came. There are some who have a mother or grandmother here whom they want to look after.
“But there was a clash between two worlds… In Noirmoutier we don’t live in this kind of density, this kind of crowd behaviour is foreign to us.
“It could have caused bad reactions on the island, like that person who punctured the tires of a car that wasn’t from here.”
A local media outlet report that paranoia has set in on the island. There are reports all over France of cars with Paris region number plates being vandalised by locals.
Another islander says: “A friend’s parents plan to return to do their shopping in a fortnight when things will be calmer and the contamination will be cleared up.”
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