As COVID-19 continues to spread, MSF prepares to respond in France

Faced with the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, the French health system is strengthening its capacity to prevent and treat cases. This week, in consultation with French health authorities, medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders (MSF) is setting up activities to help detect and manage COVID-19 cases among the most vulnerable populations in Paris and the surrounding region.

People in precarious situations, such as migrants, the homeless and unaccompanied minors, are particularly vulnerable to the epidemic. Whether they live in substandard housing or in overcrowded, makeshift encampments, unsanitary environments like these foster the spread of the virus among people excluded from healthcare systems and who are often in poor health due to their living conditions.

“In the context of the coronavirus epidemic, we are particularly concerned about the fate of people in precarious situations" explains MSF’s Deputy Operations Director Pierre Mendiharat. "If nothing is done to detect and isolate cases, the virus risks spreading among these groups particularly quickly".

MSF teams are currently working out the details of their activities with partner Medico-Social Associations and the Ile-de-France Regional Health Agency. They will include mobile consultations and screening to be able to reach the most vulnerable, and support with diagnosis, isolation and case management.

"Our response in France is very similar to initiatives MSF has already launched in other countries such as Italy, for example, and those which our teams may develop in the coming weeks" continues Pierre Mendiharat.

Protecting patients and healthcare workers is essential, so our medical teams are also preparing for potential cases of COVID-19 in our projects around the world. In places where there is a higher chance of cases, this means ensuring infection control measures are in place, setting up screening at triage, isolation areas, and health education.

In most countries where MSF works, we are coordinating with the WHO and the Ministries of Health to see how MSF could help in case of a high load of COVID-19 patients and are providing training on infection control for health facilities.



Notes to editors In France, MSF organises initiatives to help provide support and shelter to unaccompanied minors in Paris and the surrounding area, Marseille and other regions of France.

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