Les Contamines – contaminated by Coronavirus
The popular French family-friendly ski resort of Les Contamines is coming to terms with the news that five British nationals who stayed at the resort have been confirmed as infected with coronavirus.
It’s true, the resort’s name is unfortunate given the circumstances. However, to clarify, the word contamines does not mean “contaminated” but rather it means “ploughable land on the squire’s estate”.
Whatever the meaning, there’s no denying that this outbreak couldn’t have come at a worse time for the small family-oriented resort of Les Contamines, part of the Mont-Blanc chain in the Haute-Savoie region of France. Yesterday marked the start of the school winter break for some parts of France, including the Paris region. Britain has half-term next week and the remainder of France have school holidays in the few coming weeks.
The four adults and a nine-year-old boy were staying in two apartments in the same chalet in Les Contamines Montjoie resort. The local health authority is disinfecting the building and is searching for anyone who might have come into contact with the group. It is unclear as yet where the man who brought the virus to the Alps from Singapore stayed in the resort. He is now back in the UK.
The boy lives in the ski resort with his parents and two siblings. His mother was in the UK taking exams at the time of the contamination. The boy attends the local school in Les Contamines-Montjoie and has recently attended another school for extra French tuition in the nearby town of St-Gervais-les-Bains. Both schools have been closed for the week in an attempt to contain the virus. A further six people are being closely monitored in French hospitals in Grenoble, Lyon and Saint Etienne. The total of eleven people were hospitalised Friday night.
Mayor of Les Contamines-Montjoie, Étienne Jacquet, said: “I was called by the regional health agency at 12.30am [on Saturday] about two British families. Seven were in one chalet and four in another. Of the 11 people, five have tested positive for the coronavirus.”
Not only is Les Contamines having to come to terms with the coronavirus outbreak, but also they fear that business is bound to be affected at this peak time of year for the resort’s economy. Indeed, the ski school has already had some cancellations, and the resort as a whole is anticipating further cancellations at peak season. Some people en route to the resort from Italy turned round on the motorway and went back home when they heard the news.
The resort’s tourist office is working hard to stop people panicking and to reassure visitors. The town hall is distributing disinfectant, face masks and leaflets with advice on how to avoid transmitting coronavirus. Somewhat surprisingly, there is no information to date on their website at lescontamines.com.
The French Health minister, Agnès Buyzn, arrived in the resort this morning.
She is due to make a statement later today.