France is at war against the coronavirus, but its army is woefully unprepared for the fight.
So says emergency medical responder Dr. Sabrina Ali Benali.
“We have found a way to get masks, but that’s all we have. We don’t have disposable garments / coveralls, nor stocks of hand sanitiser, hair nets, glasses, overshoes.”
Benali says the majority of healthcare personnel in France are under the same strain.
“(On social media) I see that we’re all in the same situation. I have heard from nurses - including those in the private sector - who say they go into war without weapons. Who go to work with knots in their stomachs."
The French health system has been in crisis mode for months, and thousands of medical staff have been on strike, protesting against budget cuts that they say have pushed public hospitals to the brink of collapse, and put lives at risk.
Now, Benali says, the day of reckoning has arrived.
The decision to place France under lockdown will help control the spread of the virus, she says, but she believes the decision should have been made much earlier:
“All measures are being adopted two weeks too late. We have been waiting for this. We wanted schools to close much earlier.”
Benali says the fight against the pandemic is far from over.
“I am going to have to ask my husband to buy bin bags so that I can improvise disposable blouses," she says. "It is quite alarming that the seventh most powerful country in the world is in this state.”