For the last few weeks, Cancer Support France–Languedoc have been producing useful bulletins summarising key news items from the French government and other verified sources, as well as giving practical tips and suggestions for how to occupy yourself during the weeks of home confinement. The Association, which supports Anglophones living in the Languedoc who are affected by cancer, has kindly offered to share these bulletins with us.
Welcome to our tenth bulletin during the Coronavirus epidemic. In this issue we have information on:
- Healthcare during the pandemic and what CSF-L can do to help
- Wearing masks in day to day life post confinement
- How to have an online medical consultation via Doctolib
- Increasing prevalence of fake news and scams.
- Some tips on where to buy plants during the confinement.
Before continuing with the main items, there are these other items to tell you about:
- Seasonal Rentals prohibited: The Préfet of the Hérault has forbidden all seasonal rentals until 11th May at the earliest.
- New 50 € limit for contactless payments: The limit for contactless bank card payments will be revised up to 50 € from the 11th May, increasing contactless payments and reducing risk of Covid-19 transmission.
Please note that good quality care for non-Covid-19 health issues continues, in particular for emergencies. All measures will be taken to keep patients safe. If you need emergency healthcare for a suspected heart attack, stroke or any other reason, please use 15 (Medical/SAMU) or 112 (recommended from a mobile).
Cancer Support France-Languedoc (CSF-L), Covid-19 response
CSF-L continues to support Anglophones touched by cancer in the Hérault and Aveyron, as well as extending support to people touched by Covid-19 for the duration of the crisis. In line with confinement requirements, this is done at distance. Our Helpline can be reached on 04 67 44 87 06. (This is a voicemail service and we aim to return calls within 24 hours of a message being left).
Recommendations and requirements for wearing masks by the general public
For some weeks there has been a lively debate in the UK and French media concerning the wearing of masks by non-frontline carers. We have covered the topic previously in these bulletins, but advice is changing as scientists begin to understand the virus better, so here we have an update on the latest guidance.
First of all it’s important to realise that wearing a mask is mainly intended to protect others and not the wearer. Wearing a mask reduces the spread of droplets containing virus particles that you may exhale and provides only limited protection for the wearer. This is because viruses are predominantly picked up by the hands and then transferred to the face or they find their way into our bodies via our eyes. This is why frequent and thorough hand washing is advised for the public and why medical workers wear full body protection including goggles or visors.
The WHO continues to advise against the general use of masks as does PHE in the UK. However, in the US, the CDC recommends the use of non-medical masks and is encouraging people to make their own. In the UK, a decision on wearing masks post confinement is expected imminently.
Reasons given for not wearing a mask include:
- It may encourage the wearer to keep touching their face to adjust the mask.
- There is a risk of contamination when taking off a mask.
- They can give a sense of security so the wearer has less respect for distancing and hygiene measures.
- Masks get wet and contaminated so need to be washed or disposed of after each use.
- With supplies limited, medical staff have a higher priority than the general public.
What’s the situation in France?
The National Academy of Medicine recommended, in early April, that wearing masks be mandatory if the population is released from confinement as planned on May 11. In anticipation, many people have already begun wearing masks when leaving the house, despite the debate over their effectiveness. The Academy reinforced its recommendation on April 22nd saying they ‘strongly recommend the public wear masks [immediately]’ and not to wait until the end of confinement:
Approved masks for the general public are being produced in France at 17 million per week with orders for tens of millions placed abroad. These will be washable, some up to 20 or 30 times. They will not replace any preventive gestures, and social distancing which will remain in place. Masks are likely to be mandatory on public transport, where social distancing is more difficult. SNCF have already announced that they are planning to make it a requirement for people using their services to wear masks after confinement ends.
Distribution of masks will be coordinated with the Préfectures and Mairies as well as employers and possibly supermarkets.
If you wish to make a DIY mask, there are many easy to follow instructions online:
- Académie Nationale de Médicine video: https://youtu.be/7Lg0jnJ3hEo
- This site was linked from BFMTV and provides many alternatives, including folded fabric, paper and plastic masks that do not require any sewing: http://stop-postillons.fr/
When choosing what material to use to make a mask, research has shown DIY masks made with a single layer of cotton clothing or a tea towel can remove around 50-60% of virus-sized particles. This means they perform worse than surgical masks. Doubling the layers of material for your DIY mask gives a small increase in filtration effectiveness but makes the mask much more difficult to breathe through.
These links have a summary of information on the types of material to use for DIY masks and their relative effectiveness:
Wearing a mask
FranceInfo provides this guidance on best practices to adopt because, if used improperly, wearing a mask can be counterproductive.
Please remember that wearing a mask is an additional measure and not a replacement for distancing and hand washing.
Online Medical consultation arrangements using Doctolib during Covid-19
What is Doctolib?
Doctolib is an online medical appointment service to which a large number of doctors subscribe and which is now used extensively as a video consultation tool to enable consultations to take place remotely.
Who can use Doctolib
Up to the start of Covid-19, video consultations were only available to patients who had consulted face to face with their doctor before. This has now been changed for the period of the epidemic, where a patient can consult with a new doctor by video link.
How do I get started?
Doctolib can be downloaded on smartphones and tablets and a personal account is then created which enables a search for doctors by name to find out if they use Doctolib. You can make an appointment for yourself or other people who will also remain listed in your account once you have made an appointment for them.
- To download the Doctolib App:
- For Android smartphones or tablets: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=fr.doctolib.www&hl=en.
- For iPhones or iPads: https://apps.apple.com/fr/app/doctolib/id925339063.
- Or in your browser on your pc: https://www.doctolib.fr/.
- You then set up a personal account which enables a search for doctors by name to find out if they use Doctolib.
- If you’ve used Doctolib before, your past and future appointments will be listed.
- Once you have added your doctor(s) to your account on Doctolib, they remain listed ready for you to make an appointment using the App.
Is this the only way to have a medical consultation at the moment?
This depends on your doctor. Since the advent of video consultations, there is now the choice of making an appointment face to face, by telephone or by video according to what each doctor currently offers.
How does it work? A Doctolib video consultation is easy to access. At the time of booking the consultation, credit card details will need to be provided, and the patient will be told they will be charged a set amount after the consultation. The appointment is then confirmed by email and a reminder is sent nearer the time by email and text message. Read more:
- Patients will, whilst booking, be able to upload documents (e.g. a GP referral letter) by taking a photo on a mobile phone/uploading a jpeg when prompted to do so.
- There are several email and text prompts to go on the app and sign into the consultation 10 minutes before it is due to start. It can also be accessed via an internet link.
- Once you click on the ‘access the consultation’ box, you are prompted to authorise access to your microphone. Then you need to wait until the doctor gets online with you. The sound quality is very good, the picture quality good or adequate and it is easy to communicate without any time lapse.
- Most importantly it is an opportunity to ask all the questions someone wants to ask.
- At the end, the Doctor will ask for the carte vitale number to enable CPAM to reimburse.
- Subsequently, there may be a request to authorise payment of an additional amount (e.g. one patient was asked to pay an extra 2€ over and above the set amount quoted).
- An email is then sent to give the patient access to the bill from the doctor.
- Any documents, prescriptions etc from the doctor will arrive via a secure service which the patient needs to sign into, and which checks identity and creates a temporary access code to the documents.
Information – fake or real?
Fake news and fraudulent schemes continue to increase. Have you been offered Covid-19 testing kits, face masks or hand sanitiser? Or perhaps the DVLA have contacted you about car tax refunds? Have the Gendarmerie asked you to pay an online fine because you were caught on camera without an ‘attestation’? Been told to immediately pay a tax bill? Been called by your ’bank’ because your account has been hacked and you need to transfer your money immediately? Or perhaps someone is suggesting you should re-invest your pension?
Criminals are exploiting fears over the pandemic with 1000s of scams like these being detected, some costing their victims life-changing losses.
The best advice remains to check with Government and Health Authority guidance to be sure of information.
We have also updated the notes on our website with information on the types of scams now being pushed and the steps you can take to reduce your vulnerability. You can find this and other relevant Covid-19 material here: http://csf-languedoc.com/covid-19-support
If you receive something and would like us to check its validity, or want to share the information with others, please contact us using the email address we have reserved for Covid-19 feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have received some feedback about ‘distance’ options for getting plants:
- Les Serres de Saint André, on the Route de Clermont, just outside St André de Sangonis, are offering a pre-order and ‘drive’ service. Call them on 04 67 57 85 27 to discuss your requirements and establish the cost. You then pick-up your order from the entrance the following day, without the need to go into the premises.
- Les Serres De La Marguerite 12 Rue de l’Auniac, 34700 Salelles Du Bosc, are also offering a pre-order and ‘drive’ service. Call them on 06 09 67 66 21 or 06 11 72 12 81 to pre-order and then collect by appointment.
- Gamm Vert and Willemse are operating an online order and home delivery service
- Bi’o Serre de Lou Farayo at St. Etienne de Gourgas. An organic vegetable grower. Order 2 days in advance of delivery and deliver to a collection point:
- St. Jean de Vedas – Tues am
- Grabels – Tues pm
- Gignac – Wed am
- Pézenas – Thurs am
- Lodeve – Fri am
- More details and order form download here.
Stay well and please remember to send us your feedback on the changing situation.