To understand what is happening in Europe during the coronavirus Pandemic, Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon reached out to long term American ex-pat in Paris, writer, translator, journalist and author, Nidra Poller. Poller and Gordon have known each other for over 17 years when they first they met in Boston when Poller was involved in the Mohammed al Dura affair investigations and reporting on jihadist murders of fellow Jews in France. We last interviewed Poller about the disruptive Gillet Jaunes “Yellow Vests” protests of workers in France with demonstrable anti-Semitic attacks. To our surprise, we found out that Poller had suffered symptoms of a COVID-19 attack – dry cough, lack of taste, fever, fatigue that took her 10 days to gradually recover. This prompted her to begin a daily journal of what it was like under total confinement in Paris now in its third week. The interview occurred just before Passover, that disrupted Poller’s plans including the delayed visit of a new grandchild from Los Angeles. According to Coronavirus reports compiled by Johns Hopkins University on the date of our interview with Poller, April 6th, France ranked sixth in the world with over 98,839 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 8,078 deaths. The world had over 1, 274,265 cases and over 69, 971 deaths; the US had 336,830 cases and 9, 618 deaths, most of the latter were reported in the New York ‘hotspot’. Israel had 8,403 cases of COVID-19 and 49 fatalities. But those numbers have changed dramatically in less than 48 hours and the possible plateauing given the increasing extent of confinement. Poller is skeptical about the figures, as they may not be reflective of testing, or cases like her’s who experienced the symptoms of COVID-19 but recovered without hospitalization. She said colleagues who wrote from the US at the end of February and early March saying, “What is all this fuss about a thing that is causing a common cold or a little bit of the flu?” But she was getting information from Japan through her husband Jiro and others in Asia to take it more seriously. Then on March 8th she started to have a dry cough like she never had. A strange dry cough twisting her chest muscles and she couldn’t taste food, then she noted when she took her temperature it began to rise. As Poller told us, Paris was the hotspot in France, and that confinement was having a demonstrable effect in that the death toll was decreasing. The French according to her were doing an effective job of shutting things down as their hospitals had not been overwhelmed. Unlike the US, polls in France she noted posted a 98% approval for confinement which she noted was very strict. Each person must carry a form with their name, address, date and place of birth, the date and time they go out. They are allowed out for only one hour each day to buy necessities and for a bit of exercise and fresh air but must remain within one kilometer of their designated residence. She noted that in her neighborhood few shops are open where you can buy food. You don’t walk into the shop; you stand in front. People have masks or plastic screen. You don’t pay in cash, but with a card. In many places they are checked and if found in violation are fined. If they rebel, they can be sentenced to jail with no right of appeal. The drug dealers she noted are really put out about confinement. You can’t jump into your car, take a plane, except for emergencies, as the Schengen borders are closed across the EU. Orly Airport is closed. The strictness, she noted had a benefit, the hospitals are not overwhelmed. She says, “This means that people who could recover are getting everything possible to recover”. While she and others are confined, they are still in contact with the outside world. The pandemic is not without its instances of Anti-Semitism and Islamic terrorism. Poller noted that the French Health Minister and his wife are Jewish and have been attacked for not relenting to calls for permitting the use of the controversial immune suppressive and anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine developed during World War II. She noted the limited ‘anecdotal’ trials by a respected French medical researcher at the University of Marseilles have triggered the controversy in France – paralleling calls for its use in the US by the President and others. Poller contends that what is required are controlled clinical trials to establish credible efficacy and safety, without triggering adverse side effects, of hydroxychloroquine. The interim and ultimate solutions may lie with development of credible antibodies therapies and vaccines several of which are under development in the US and in Israel. Poller drew our attention to the attack during national confinement by a Sudanese refugee in southeastern France with several killed and injured. Reviews by police investigators of his writings revealed hatred of Kuffirs, meaning infidels – evidence of Islamic Jihadism ideology. In the meantime, Poller endeavors to compile a daily chronicle of her views of what is occurring during the COVID-19 Pandemic in France, the UK, the US and Israel.
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