Epidemics, another specter of global warming

Paris, France | AFP | Sunday 08/16/2020 – Awakening of a frozen prehistoric virus, return of smallpox, dengue fever settling in Europe … These scenarios worthy of a disaster film are being seriously studied by scientists, worried about the related epidemic risk to global warming.

The Covid-19 pandemic, with its virus probably born in bats, has highlighted the dangers of increasingly extensive interference between human activities and nature, which promotes the transmission of animal diseases to the man.

But the risk of epidemics can also come from another disastrous consequence of human activities: climate change, which causes the displacement of mosquitoes carrying malaria or dengue fever, and the beginning of the thaw of permafrost where more microbes are frozen. or older.

“In my darkest moments, I see a truly horrible future for Homo sapiens,” blurted Birgitta Evengard, a microbiologist at the University of Umea, Sweden.

“Our greatest enemy is our own ignorance, because nature is full of microorganisms,” including permafrost, “a real pandora’s box,” she told AFP.

These permanently frozen soils, which cover a quarter of the land in the northern hemisphere, in Russia, Canada, or Alaska, are already a climate time bomb: a “significant” part could thaw by 2100, releasing tens or even hundreds of billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases, according to UN climate experts (IPCC).

And that’s not all. “Microorganisms can survive in a frozen space for a very long time,” said Prof. Vladimir Romanovsky of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

“As soon as the ground thaws, water begins to flow through, taking with it particles, organic matter or microorganisms isolated for hundreds or thousands of years”, explains the geophysicist.

Science has proven that some of these microorganisms can be awakened.

“When you put a seed in frozen ground for thousands of years, nothing happens. When you warm the soil, the seed will be able to germinate. It’s the same with a virus,” explains the AFP Professor Jean-Michel Claverie.

Mammoths and Neanderthals

With his team from the Mediterranean Institute of Microbiology, he has succeeded in reactivating Siberian viruses dating back at least 30,000 years.

These awakened organisms only attacked amoeba. But in these frozen regions, “Neanderthals, mammoths, woolly rhinos got diseases, died, fell. Probably all the viruses that caused their problems at the time are still in the ground,” he continues.

The number of bacteria or viruses trapped there is incalculable. But the real question is: are they dangerous? Scientists are divided.

“Anthrax proves that a bacteria can sleep in permafrost for hundreds of years and be revived,” says Birgitta Evengard.

In 2016, in Siberia, a child was killed by anthrax disease, which has disappeared for 75 years in the region.

This contamination is sometimes attributed to the thawing of an ancient corpse of reindeer caught in the permafrost. Some experts believe, however, that the carcasses were simply in the surface soil that thaws every year, so this event would not prove that a pathogen frozen for much longer in the permafrost could still kill.

Other known pathogens, such as the influenza viruses of 1917 or smallpox, are also potentially present in arctic cemeteries welcoming the victims of ancient epidemics preserved in the icy layers.

While some, like Vladimir Romanovsky, believe they are “probably deactivated”, others are less certain.

In any case, for smallpox, thanks to the vaccine, “one would get away with it, even if a local epidemic would do damage,” says Prof. Claverie.

For him, “the real danger” is much deeper, in the layers which may date back 2 million years and which potentially contain unknown pathogens.

It is also necessary for an awakened virus, old or not, to find a host. A meeting that climate change would facilitate, by always opening up the roads to the Far North.

“With the industrial exploitation of the Arctic, we have all the conditions for risk met: a potential danger, with the presence of people”, insists Jean-Michel Claverie.

Tiger mosquito invasion

Global warming could also become a powerful ally for much more current viruses, which are already wreaking havoc across the world.

Malaria, dengue, chikungunya, zika … Some mosquitoes that are vectors of “tropical” diseases could be found at home in Europe or North America.

“Mosquitoes extend their reach towards the North and are now able to survive the winter in certain temperate regions”, underlines Jeanne Fair, researcher at the American Laboratory Los Alamos, who is working on models to predict how far they could s ‘install.

The presence of this vector (tick, mosquito, fly) is not enough. Of course, you need a host. And “special temperature conditions so that the pathogen can replicate in the mosquito”, insists Cyril Caminade, epidemiologist at the University of Liverpool.

For example, the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia but become one of the worst invasive species in the world, is now present in Europe on almost the entire Mediterranean coast, even in Paris, and could continue its advance north.

For now, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has only listed a few indigenous cases of the diseases it can transmit: around 40 cases of dengue fever between 2010 and 2019, two cases of zika in France in 2019, and several hundred chikungunya between 2007 and 2017, mainly in Italy.

Warming “aperitif”

But the tiger, often pointed out, is not the only one. Another mosquito (Aedes aegypti), the main vector of dengue fever, is also under surveillance.

“An increase in average temperature could lead to seasonal transmission of dengue fever in southern Europe if the virus-infected A.aegypti becomes established there,” warns ECDC.

As for the risk of malaria returning to regions where it was once endemic, in Europe or North America, it is less clear: the prevalence of this disease transmitted by anopheles and for which treatment exists, is largely linked to the conditions. socio-economic.

According to a study published in 2011, cited by the latest IPCC benchmark report, 5.2 billion people could live in 2050 in areas affected by malaria, if we do not limit global warming. But by adding factors of strong economic growth and social development, that number would drop to 1.7 billion.

Despite everything, “recent experiences in Southern Europe demonstrate how quickly the disease can reappear if the health services decline”, insisted the IPCC, referring in particular to the resurgence of cases in Greece after the 2008 crisis.

As for Africa, which in 2018 had more than 90% of the 228 million cases of malaria, it risks seeing mosquitoes rise in altitude, for example on the Ethiopian plateau and in Kenya.

In general for these tropical diseases, for the moment, the signals “are worrying in terms of the presence of vectors, not necessarily of transmission”, summarizes Cyril Caminade.

“It shows the beginnings,” he notes. And “we are only at the aperitif of climate change”.


Asia doesn’t want European tourists

The European Union was to agree, Monday, June 29, on a list of fifteen countries that their level of contamination with Covid-19 would make consider as “safe”, allowing their residents to come to Europe from the month of July.

→ READ. Coronavirus: Europe Reopens to Fourteen Countries

This still provisional list, but made public on Saturday June 27 (1), seems to exclude the United States where the epidemic is out of control, like Russia, but China could be included. Non-essential trips to the EU, which have been banned since mid-March, should be phased out from 1is July.

For some Asian countries, on the other hand, there is no question of opening the borders to Europeans who they consider unsafe in terms of health.

Europe demands reciprocity from China

Thus this list of fifteen countries presents certain anomalies. The epidemiological criteria (a rate of new cases of Covid-19 close to or below 16 per 100,000 inhabitants, EU average, over the past 14 days) does not seem to be questioned, except perhaps for the China. Several Member States have judged “ problematic »The reliability of Chinese epidemiological data.

China could still be on this list, but in this case, the European Union “demands” reciprocity. In other words, European nationals can also freely travel to China. What is not the case for the moment, with the exception of some diplomats or businessmen, for whom a quarantine of two weeks is compulsory in Shanghai, in a hotel chosen by the Chinese government.

No European citizen can go to Japan

Another ambiguity of this list, the green light granted to Japanese and South Korean nationals, without “requirement” but accompanied by a simple “request” for “reciprocity”. For the South Korean authorities there is no travel ban in South Korea. “Anyone can enter the country, says a resident of Seoul, but there are some requirements: visa application at the consulate and test on arrival. If the test is positive, it is direct at the hospital, if it is negative it is about two weeks in a hotel chosen by the government, at 100 € per day at the expense of the traveler. “ In other words, a crippling constraint for a tourist. “The South Koreans are afraid of the Europeans whom they consider as” contaminants “”, said this witness again in Seoul.

Foreign residents in Japan cannot return to Japan

The situation is much more ambiguous for Japan. To date, no European national has the right to go there. No exceptions. Even European residents living and paying their taxes in Japan, stranded abroad, are not allowed to return to “their” country of residence.

→ READ. Deconfinement: Orly Airport takes off again

The European “demand” for reciprocity could make a difference, but the Japanese bureaucracy has still not received an order to resolve this situation which affects thousands of people. “Part of my family is in Tokyo and I cannot join them,” testifies a Frenchwoman stranded in Paris.

Hong Kong and Taiwan, exemplary in the management of the virus, are not on the list

Finally, no reference to Hong Kong or Taiwan on this European list, while the prevalence rate in these countries is among the lowest in the world. “If he does not live in Hong Kong, no European can enter it, explains a European expatriate, you can’t even get on the plane. “ In Taiwan, which has managed the coronavirus epidemic in an exemplary manner, “No European tourist returns, it’s closed”, explains a European consultant living on the spot for years.

Taiwanese and foreign residents were able to return, but had to be quarantined for 14 days. “If a Taiwanese man goes to Europe, he should quarantine himself on his return. “ The rules have been softened since June 22 for diplomats, businessmen or teachers, with tests three days before leaving and a quarantine modulated according to the countries of origin: five days for New Zealand but 15 days for Europe … still considered “dangerous”.

(1) Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay.


In Bangladesh, the Rohingyas without hope of return

They remain almost a million in camps between Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, and Burma, the countries they have fled to 800 000 of them during the fall of 2017, subject to the exactions of the burmese army. Not to mention the other, those who arrived there nearly twenty years, who still live here, under their shelters of the fortune.

→ TO READ. New attempt of repatriation of the Rohingya

This month, the buses put at the disposal of the Rohingya by the government of Bangladesh to bring them home in their native land remained empty. These muslim refugees, officially stateless, do not count leave before the burmese authorities to grant a legal identity.

A quarter of the aid workers may work in camps

The Rohingya, like the millions of afghan refugees or syrians, are not close to to revise their land. The report of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) published Thursday, June 18, two days before world refugee Day, Saturday 20, note that three-quarters of those who have had to leave their country “are trapped in situations of prolonged movement “.

In Bangladesh, the Rohingyas without hope of return

Then the international solidarity was organized. With its NGOS and un agencies. The annual budget necessary for the refugees the Rohingya is estimated at 850 million euros, “with only 20 % for the moment are covered “, estimated Ram Das, assistant director of Care in Bangladesh.

His NGO is present in the distribution of drinking water, sanitation, and solar energy production. “In normal times, the 300 NGOS active in the camps near Cox’s Bazar employ 20, 000 aid workers. Currently, only 5 000 are authorized to work because of the containment measures taken to combat coronavirus. “ Only essential activities, such as health services and distribution of food and water are provided.

Since the beginning of the epidemic Covid-19, we in the west are stigmatized. Jean-Pierre Becue, which the Committee supports since 1972, the bangladeshi NGO GK Paralysed, explains : “Our partner operates 12 health centres in the camps for the Rohingya. He has found that Westerners were virtually prohibited from entering the camps, which can be understood, because the disease’s arrival by workers in bangladesh income in Italy”.

“The situation is under control “

Since, the whole country lives under containment, public transport is limited, the textile mills are closed. In Dhaka, GK savar lives has put in place of distributions of food parcels to several tens of thousands of families without resources.

The area of Cox’s Bazar is in the red zone since 6 June. The official figures are 1, 600 cases tested positive for the region, 38 in the camps, where we don’t account for the moment that two people died. “The situation is under control “, summarizes Ram Das, who enumerates the measures taken : regular testing, a centre mounted isolation for cases requiring quarantine, measures of distance imposed to the distributions of food or water, travel between the camps banned…

→ TO READ. Genocide of the Rohingya : burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi in first line

The refugees, therefore, learn self-management. The instructions have been passed by the imams of the camp and by 2 000 Rohingya trained by the relief workers of bangladesh. The phone and Internet can be a relay to inform the refugees, because the government of bangladesh has reduced the use to avoid the rumors.

“Several NGOS, we have forwarded a request to the authorities to recover the phone so that the instructions and information on the epidemic arrive more quickly to the refugees “, explains Rama Das. The health crisis have had the effect to isolate a little more the refugees Rohingya. They accept it, aware of the risk of getting epidemic in this place, confined and overcrowded.


A confrontation deadly between India and China, killed 20 people

In the night of Monday 14 to Tuesday 15 June, twenty indian soldiers were killed in a confrontation with the chinese army on the border, fought in Ladakh, in northern India. This is the first hanging military murderer in the 45 years between the two asian giants.

→ TO READ. China and India’s new face-to-face in the Himalayas

The indian army was first announced on Tuesday 15 June the death of an officer and two soldiers, conjuring the dead “both sides,”. In the evening, it was reported from 17 other “severely wounded on the field of honor “ who had “died of wounds “. China has raised “dead and wounded “without , however, specifying in what camp, and accused India of being responsible for the incident.

The indian ministry of foreign Affairs has been replicated by the voice of his spokesman, Anurag Srivastava, assigning responsibility for the confrontation to China through “an attempt to unilaterally change the status quo “ at the border.

“No firearm was not used “

An indian military based in the region has insured that there had been no exchange of fire. “No firearm was used. There has been a violent body-to-body “said this source, who requested anonymity because she is not authorized to speak to the press. This incident military serious fact following several face-to-face tense along the border have occurred since the beginning of may. Thousands of soldiers had been routed by the two powers. If both countries claim to have attempted to resolve this crisis through diplomatic channels, the escalation of violence has, however, resulted in this confrontation with a murderer.

A spokesman for the chinese ministry of foreign affairs, Zhao Lijian, has accused the indian troops to have “crossed the border twice before engaging in unlawful activity and to provoke and attack of chinese soldiers, with the result that a serious physical confrontation “. However, following talks between generals of the two armies there is a period of ten days, a process of disengagement military had been engaged in some of the disputed areas of the high altitude region of Ladakh.

Defuse the situation

Of senior officers from the two edges and have a currently on-site to defuse the situation, according to the press release of the indian army. During this time, in New York, a spokesman for the united nations has expressed the concern of the Organization. “We urge the two parties to observe maximum restraint “said to the media, Eri Kaneko, welcoming the reports of a commitment by the two countries to calm down the situation.

India and China have several territorial disputes of long standing, in the areas of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. But the last altercation deadly between indian army and chinese dated back to 1975, when four indian soldiers had lost their lives in Arunachal Pradesh (east). No ball has been pulled over the indo-chinese.

In contrast, the confrontation in a mountainous area between armed chinese and indian, have become more frequent in recent years, the administration’s Trump interprets as the sign of an aggressive growing chinese in Asia. In 2017, the indian soldiers and the chinese have spent more than two months to cope on a plateau himalayan strategic region of Bhutan. Talks had led to a disengagement of military from both parties.

The last open conflict between the two most populous nations on the planet dates back to the lightning war of 1962, which had seen the indian troops quickly defeated by the chinese army.


From Delhi to Bombay, the hospitals are assaulted by the pandemic

For Mandeep Singh, consultant in Delhi, calls to the emergency line of the public hospital, Ganga Ram rang in the void. After an initial consultation in the general hospital, he was trying to point out that her father-in-law, 67-year-old, had been tested positive to the Covid-19. “From there, the medical management has not worked “, he said.

→ ANALYSIS. In India, a containment two-speed

His family then attempts to contact the private hospitals which, due to lack of space, the return to Ganga Ram for an admission. Barely lost. On 5 June, the fever of the father-in-law goes out of control. Mandeep Singh puts in his car and is desperately the tour of the hospital, begging the doctors. When one of them agrees finally to treat his father-in-law, it is too late. The latter died a few hours later.

95 000 beds in intensive care to 1.3 billion people

“This incident is not isolated, highlights Mandeep Singh, who, since then, has received many testimonials similar. Hospitals of Delhi fail to respond to the crisis. If you are sick, better to stay at home and die with dignity. “

If in Delhi, the hospitals seem to be overwhelmed, although the authorities claim to have more room, Mumbai (” indianized ” in Mumbai, editor’s NOTE), dense city and the most affected by the pandemic, the health system is already at saturation point. “He is yet of the two cities with the best health system in the country, says Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Centre for Disease Dynamics. And even more than the beds or the fans, it is the doctors that come running out. “

In this country of 1.3 billion people, there are only 95 000 beds in intensive care, four times less than in Italy. “If the pandemic intensifies, the demand for intensive care will overwhelm the health system “warning , dr. Soumitra Ghosh, from the Centre of health at the Tata Institute of social sciences (printed cloth), Mumbai. With nearly 10 000 new cases per day, the curve of infections soars, hits the mark of 300 000 cases. The exponential progression will continue, as the government has released containment is strict, which paralyzed the economy for more than two months.

Nothing in Delhi, half-a-million infections should be déplorées at the end of July, according to the alert, this week, the local authorities will have to find 80 000 more beds. “And the screening tests are far from being satisfactory “says dr. Soumitra Ghosh.

Suspicions about the veracity of the official figures

Friday, June 12, the supreme Court sharply rebuked Delhi, stating that the treatment of the patients was “worse than animals “and asking why the tests had increased from 7 000 to 5 000 per day. Of suspicions on the veracity of the official figures (read below). In Delhi, between the declarations of places of burial and those of the authorities, a gap of 1 000 deaths recently brought to light, a difference from simple to double.

The authorities would seek to hide the scale of the pandemic ? “There is a tendency of States and of the government wanting to project a better image than the reality “says Srinivas Rajkumar, a doctor at the AIIMS, the public hospital, the most prestigious award of India. Punished for criticising the quality of protective masks distributed to the hospital, he denounces the strategy of groping authorities. “These are all breaches of the health system in India, which are rendered visible by the pandemic “, “he says.

This system delivers now a race against the clock. He calls to the aid the private sector, because you have to make beds, whatever the cost. Attempts to conserve resources at times prove to be a sad face in Delhi, who attempted to deny access to hospitals to non-residents. At Bombay, on the other hand, a hospital of 1 000 beds could be fitted in two weeks.

Everyone knows that the worst is yet to come. “The pandemic will continue to swell, and the health crisis will last a long time, writes Ramanan Laxminarayan. The immunity of the Indians is no different from any other. And India being a big country, the number of infections and deaths the risk to logically be more important than elsewhere. “


The pandemic of Covid-19 in India

– With over 10,000 new cases in 24 hours, India has made state, Friday 12 June, a total of 298 283 confirmed cases of infection with the coronavirus. The country, in many cases, becomes the fourth most affected by the pandemic behind the United States, Russia and Brazil.

Officially, 8 498 Indians had died of the Covid-19 Friday, June 12, a balance sheet which places India at 11e rank. Its mortality rate is 2.9 %.

– India leads to less screening tests per capita than the ten other most affected countries, with only 3.9 tests per 1 000 inhabitants.

– With 52 445 cases in Bombay (17.6 %) and 34 687 cases in Delhi (up 11.6 %), the two main metropolises, which are respectively 18.4 million and 16.3 million inhabitants, account for nearly 30 % of cases in India.


North Koreans are “starving” according to the UN

A call for help. “More and more families in north Korean eat only twice a day, or eat only corn, and some are hungry “ felt Tuesday, June 9, Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the country of 23 million people.

→ TO READ. Because of the coronavirus, North Korea has once again become a ” hermit kingdom “

Caught in the trap of the coronavirus, North Korea has closed its border with China (1 412 km away and only 19 km with Russia) the 21 of January, by which pass 80 % of its supplies. In the Face of this very worrying situation, this expert has called on the security Council of the UN “to reconsider the sanctions “ international economic applied against Pyongyang since 2016.

“The food situation has worsened since 2016 “

The terrible famine of the mid-1990s had caused the death of over a million North Koreans. The food situation has vastly improved in the late 2000s, there was more starvation in North Korea, but food insecurity remains in some provinces of the centre of the country.

“Most of the experts of which I am a part point out that the programmes of the united Nations in North Korea are chronically under-funded for years,”analysis dr. Kee Park, a neurosurgeon and professor at Harvard, an expert on North Korea, he knows very well. “But the situation has worsened since the implementation of the strategy of “maximum pressure” against Pyongyang at the end of year 2010. The statements of Quintana on the food situation are not at all exaggerated. “

Many testimonies very credible to some defectors refugees in the South, and keep contacts in the North report a surge in prices and a worrisome deterioration of the food situation. The world food Programme (WFP, united nations agency) estimates that 40 % of the north Korean population was already food insecure before the crisis of the sars coronavirus.

Gold, fall in “malnutrition at this scale means that irreversible damages are inflicted on hundreds of thousands of children “. The containment of the country further aggravates the situation. “In this context, concluded T. O Quintana, I encourage the security Council of the united nations to reconsider the sanctions “ economic applied from 2016.

“It is absolutely necessary to review the regime of sanctions which are affecting the most vulnerable “

“There is no doubt that if the united nations eases sanctions in a targeted way, this will relieve the north Korean population “, provides a witness westerner who has led many humanitarian missions to North Korea for several years.

Dr. Kee Park is convinced that the “economic sanctions affect the most vulnerable populations in the country. It is absolutely necessary to review the regime of sanctions, but that the north Korean authorities to improve the flexibility of their procedures of distribution of foreign aid “.

Since the beginning of the crisis of the sars coronavirus, the united Nations has granted extraordinary exemptions to several NGOS (Doctors without borders, Unicef, international Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies (IFRC) and the Swiss Humanitarian Aid) in order to combat the epidemic or its consequences. The importance of contagion remains very difficult to assess, although several cases have been reported by news agencies in south korea.


The ” war ” in China – Us to the magnifying glass

The global leadership in question

The confrontation between China and the United States

Pierre-Antoine Donnet, Editions dawn 232 p., 22 €

It is necessary to read this book emergency. Not only because the journalist, writer and traveller Jean-Claude Guillebaud, in the preface, provides : “it happens at the best time possible “. But also because Pierre-Antoine Donnet, its author, mastery beautifully about it. Or rather ” its ” subjects.

→ TO READ. The Alliance parliamentary world wants to counter the ” chinese threat “

In this book-investigation-analysis, the one who was a journalist for AFP in the post for years in Beijing, then in New York and at the united nations, offers to the readers a sensitive approach to China, its regime, its history and its culture, as well as the United States, of their youth, their president, their power…

→ INVESTIGATION. China – the United States, a new cold war ?


The first two powers in the world, for months, insult, provoke, and lying, is scratch. The crisis of the sars coronavirus did was throw a little more oil on the fire. To put into perspective the tensions, Pierre-Antoine Donnet exceeds the caricature, too easy, a confrontation between an evil empire, the chinese, and the empire of the property, the United States.

Who is going to win ?

On a sensitive subject, contrasting, complex, it develops to the contrary, the characteristics, historical, social and political of the two titans, the assets in their games. Who is going to win ? Pierre-Antoine Donnet is too late observer to deliver a definitive answer. On the other hand, it poses and the analysis of the terms of the debate – democracy against dictatorship, evaluates the two economic models, competition, geo-strategic rivalries in technology, the expansion of the chinese and takes us up in the space war.

It is clear that the United States will remain a great power in spite of a president freakish and in a society in identity crisis. China, on the other hand, in spite of its power, accumulates the weaknesses and barriers to its development : pollution, public debt, demographics, real estate bubble, social instability, and finally gangrene, destructive of endemic corruption. Among the most prominent researchers in the world, whom he quotes on the subject, some are betting on the collapse of China, others are considering a future where it will preserve its interest in preventing the slippage of the military.

→ TO READ. In spite of the coronavirus, China and the United States agree on the trade

But, says the specialist of China, Hubert Testard : “China will one day resolve the basic contradiction between its economic and cultural opening to the world and its desire increased control of individuals, organizations, and ideas.


anonymous Covid-19 tests to encourage people to get tested

An unexpected obstacle for the Korean government in the Covid-19 crisis is the fear that some Koreans will not dare to be tested for fear of having to come out and be stigmatized. After being extremely effective in dealing with the pandemic, which almost seemed to be in the past, the country saw the emergence of new cases in the Itaewon district of Seoul. This new home is said to be due to a person who, in one evening, went to five different nightclubs in the neighborhood.

Xenophobia wave

A conservative newspaper immediately said it was gay bars, which sparked a spike in homophobia across the country., explains Juliette Morillot, historian specializing in the two Koreas. Itaewon district is traditionally close to American bases, a night district with a lot of foreigners ” This also sparked a wave of xenophobia in the country, according to the historian.

→ LIVE. Coronavirus: the latest information in France and worldwide

In this country where a fringe of the population is very conservative, the Korean authorities have therefore decided to make the tests and care in case of positive results completely anonymous, so as not to frighten some people to be stigmatized. For example, when an individual is sick and therefore confined, to provide help and masks as discreetly as possible.

Once an individual has tested positive, the country does indeed go out of their way: surveys and the use of geolocation make it possible to determine with whom the individual has been in contact, and telephone messages indicate to people located nearby, to be vigilant. ” It’s not about rummaging through people’s privacy “, Specifies Juliette Morillot. Especially since “ all this data is stored on outsourced servers which will be destroyed at the end of the crisis ” Another measure which has limited contagion: the patients are systematically sorted, between those presenting risks of comorbidity or not.

In the land of tests

You would think that the country was done with the coronavirus. At the beginning of May, he experienced a few days without the appearance of almost no case. The country was, however, one of the first to be affected in the world, since the epidemic first appeared there in February.

According to Juliette Morillot, this almost unique efficiency in the world comes from the excellent preparation of the country: it has a strong experience of epidemics (including the MERS in 2015 which had gone bad), the preparation of tests even before the epidemic appears on the territory, the massive use of masks, the excellent hygiene rooted in culture, or even a life-size rehearsal that took place in the country, last December, to prepare for a pandemic.

→ READ. Massive screening campaign in South Korea pays off

But above all, the country has relied on massive tests of the population. ” During the first major outbreak in Daegu, the country decided to test many people there, those with symptoms and those who did not. And the authorities found that the rate of positives was almost as high in asymptomatic patients as in the population with symptoms “Continues Juliette Morillot. It was after this observation that the country decided to test a maximum of people, whether or not they had symptoms. ” And above all, the government has been extremely transparent in dealing with the crisis Says the historian.


France dares a showdown with China over Taiwan

France does not allow itself to be intimidated by threats from China. While Beijing urged France on Tuesday (May 12th) to “cancel” an arms deal with Taiwan that could “damage Sino-French relations”, Paris swept aside these critics the next day. In an unambiguous statement, the Quai d ‘Orsay declared its rightfulness and invited China to focus on the fight against the Covid-19 rather than on an old controversy.

→ LIVE – Coronavirus: the latest information in France and worldwide

As China’s image continues to deteriorate around the world for not having curbed the coronavirus epidemic from the start, tensions are mounting between Beijing and Paris, China’s primary ally within the European Union.

Small 25 million euro arms deal with Taiwan angers China

The contract, the subject of Beijing’s intervention, relates to equipment (decoy launchers intended to avoid being struck by an enemy missile) for the French frigates sold to Taiwan in 1991 (two billion euros), a sale which had caused the glaciation of relations between France and China at the time. According to Beijing, Taiwan (23 million inhabitants) is a Chinese province with which no official relationship is possible, and even less arms sales. ” Beyond the revelation of this small 25 million euros arms contract by the Taiwanese on April 7, it is the timing that matters most “Analyzes Antoine Bondaz, researcher at the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS) and teacher at Sciences-Po Paris.

“China cannot afford to criticize France today as it once did”

In his eyes, China will have to be very careful in its reaction, for the moment minimal, and its potential reprisals against France, which could be more violent. ” Taiwan is an extremely sensitive subject for Beijing and France knows it perfectly, specifies our researcher, the decision was made at the highest level in Paris, which wants to gauge the Chinese reaction ” In the midst of a coronavirus turmoil, accused of all ills and with a weakened economy, ” China cannot allow itself, as in the past, to violently criticize France and consequently to alienate the European Union which it needs

This contract, perceived as a provocation by Beijing, could be a precedent if it lets go, precisely at the moment when Taiwan launched a modernization program of its armies which could benefit France, but also Germany, Italy or the Netherlands (Taiwan purchases more than 90% of its armaments from the United States). ” China is trapped if it overreacts “Concludes Antoine Bondaz who does not see France giving in to Chinese injunctions.

The risk for Beijing, which continues to nurture patriotism and intends to protect the integrity of its territory, is to be unable to control its public opinion. The fear of not being able to recover Taiwan could anger the mainstream public opinion and call for a boycott of French products (luxury, food, mass distribution). This is why the information of the arms contract with France was not published in the Chinese official media. But the Taiwanese will make it known on the mainland.


China rejects international coronavirus investigation

Even under pressure, China does not give in. While several Western countries have been calling for a few weeks that an international and independent investigation could be carried out in China to understand the origin of the Covid-19 epidemic, Beijing clearly rejected this possibility on Wednesday 6 May.

→ LIVE. Coronavirus: the latest information in France and worldwide

We are not allergic in principle to any form of investigation or assessment, said Chinese Ambassador to Geneva Chen Xu, (…) but we don’t have time to waste to save lives ” The diplomat postponed the issue to the end of the pandemic in the world, in other words not for months, if not years.

“China is backing everyone”

Despite the very diplomatic turn of the declaration, the message is clear: China will not accept any interference in its internal affairs. ” Suffice to say that this international investigation has no chance of succeeding “, Analyzes Valérie Niquet (1), head of the Asia Pole at the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS). ” While China has lied and concealed the epidemic, it continues its aggressive diplomacy which turns out to be more and more counterproductive because it puts everyone on their backs “, She adds.

Pearl Harbor in 1941 and September 11 in 2001 are two major traumas in contemporary American history

A few hours later, as the death toll in the United States reached 73,000, President Donald Trump said the coronavirus epidemic was ” worse than the attack on Pearl Harbor and the September 11 attacks ” He evokes here the surprise attack of the Japanese aviation against the American military base of Hawaii in December 1941 (2 403 victims) which had pushed the United States to enter the Second World War, and the attacks of the World Trade Center September 11, 2001 (nearly 3,000 dead).

Donald Trump therefore places the epidemic due to the Chinese virus on the same level, if not well above, of the two most traumatic contemporary historical events for the American nation “Explains Jean-Eric Branaa, (2), lecturer on American society and politics at the University of Assas-Paris2. ” For the Americans there will be a “before virus” and an “after virus” as for 1941 and 2001 He insists.

“American Good Must Outweigh Chinese Evil”

By also violently attacking China, the cradle of the epidemic which has already killed more than 260,000 people worldwide, Donald Trump aims to rally the American people behind the starry flag. ” For Trump, Chinese evil has been clearly identified, America has been attacked and as always in history, the United States will respond to bring peace “Continues Jean-Eric Branaa.

Especially since the forecasts on the number of victims could exceed 150,000 dead in a few weeks. ” We will see how American public opinion will react to this new trauma, asks our researcher. But already Trump’s campaign dynamic is set in motion: it is the patriotic mobilization in the face of this war against China and the virus. American “Good” must prevail over Chinese “Evil”

(1) “Chinese power in 100 questions”, Tallandier Publishing 272 p. € 15.90

(2) Nothing will be as before: 1. America in the time of the coronavirus VA Éditions, 162 p. € 4.99, the copyright of which is paid to the Fondation des Hôpitaux de Paris