LA BALME DE SILLINGY, France (Reuters) - In the sleepy French Alpine town of La Balme de Sillingy, outgoing Mayor Francois Daviet was out in the sun on election day enjoying life a little bit more after a rollercoaster 19 days of personally battling against coronavirus.
The small town of about 5,000 people was thrown into disarray at the end of February when it became of one of the first areas in France to see an outbreak of the virus. One of its inhabitants returned from northern Italy and spread the virus during a ball attended by some 120 people, local officials have said.
Daviet and local authorities immediately took drastic measures, closing schools and asking people to stay at home as much as possible for 15 days.
But just a few days later the 65-year-old mayor, who was campaigning to be re-elected in municipal elections, fell ill himself and was hospitalised in neighbouring Annecy with 13 others from his town.
“I’ve completely recovered now. I don’t have a fever anymore, no symptoms anymore, no diarrhoea anymore, everything is back to normal after 19 days, that’s not bad,” Daviet told Reuters, wearing a protective mask.
“There were two waves. A relatively calm period and then there were four or five days (that were) quite difficult,” Daviet said.
Infections have jumped in recent days in France: authorities said on Saturday that 91 people had died of the virus and more than 4,500 were infected.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Saturday ordered the shutdown of most shops, restaurants and entertainment activities, although he said Sunday’s local elections should to go ahead.
In La Balme de Sillingy, life had been due to return to some form of normalcy on Monday, with schools re-opening. On Sunday, the market was once again thriving. But all that is back on hold.
“I am very happy that we took these (tough) measures, because today La Balme de Sillingy isn’t reporting many new cases, so it proves the efficiency of the isolation measures,” Saviet said.
“We need to continue to implement them and we need to implement them all together if we want them to be efficient.”
But many of those wandering through the market on Sunday were frustrated over the new nationwide measures, even if they they were necessary.
“Personally, we stopped our choir when it was necessary and we resumed this week, but we will stop again, and we will wait,” said La Balme resident Marie-Helene Penot.
“I have family members who own a restaurant in Annecy, and this is a catastrophe for them, but for others, it is less serious. If we want to get back to a normal life in the coming months, we have to go through this.”
His battle done with the virus, Daviet was now focused on re-election in Sunday’s vote.
“It’s sunny and it will keep people busy,” he said. “I encourage them to come and vote. That’s all they have to do anyway.”
Writing by John Irish; Editing by Frances Kerry