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Flat River, P.E.I., woman opts to stay in France with family she works for during coronavirus crisis

Flat River native Paige Miller, left, visits the Les Invalides building in Paris, France, with her friend, Avery Grainger, in this undated photo. Miller has been living in France and working as an au pair since August. - Contributed
Flat River native Paige Miller, left, visits the Les Invalides building in Paris, France, with her friend, Avery Grainger, in this undated photo. Miller has been living in France and working as an au pair since August. - Contributed - Contributed

 


A Flat River woman has opted to stay put with the family she works for in Paris, France, rather than return to P.E.I.

Paige Miller, 21, said she feels safe where she is and that it’s a better option than joining the countless number of Canadians still desperately trying to get home in the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic.

“I didn’t really see a point in me going home because I didn’t want to risk having the virus and taking it back to the Island,’’ Miller told The Guardian in a FaceTime interview. “I’m more worried about bringing it back home.’’

Paige Miller of Flat River said she decided to remain in France with the family she works for rather than risk coming home and spreading the coronavirus on P.E.I.
Paige Miller of Flat River said she decided to remain in France with the family she works for rather than risk coming home and spreading the coronavirus on P.E.I.

Miller, the daughter of Lori Collicutt of Flat River and James Miller of Frenchfort, said she’s all too aware of how many travellers have spread the virus.

Miller has been working as an au pair for a family in Paris, taking care of three children, ages 3, 9 and 11, since August.

Adding to Miller’s decision to stay in Paris was news that the mother of the children, Veronique, who had recently travelled to Australia, received a call last week informing her that someone she came in contact with in her travels tested positive for the virus. Veronique returned to Paris on March 14.

Miller said the family took the news very seriously and immediately went into self-isolation. Veronique is still symptom-free, so far, but they haven’t been able to get tested yet due to a shortage of test kits.

Miller said the situation with the outbreak escalated quickly in France.

“It happened really fast. At first, they were telling us to social distance and that was about two weeks ago. Italy then got hit really bad and it was starting to come here but, honestly, I don’t think anyone really paid attention.’’

Then, schools, businesses and restaurants started to close but Miller said people simply went to the beaches or the parks. That’s when the government said enough and ordered a complete lockdown. 

Miller said people are allowed to go for groceries or gas but that’s it. Only essential workers, such as those in health care, are exempt. The army and police are patrolling the streets to enforce confinement.

“You're only allowed one outing a day and it can only be for an hour and when you leave (your home) you have to fill out a sheet of paper that has your address, your name, your birthdate, the reason why you’re leaving and the time you left,’’ she said. “Police will stop you to make sure you’re following protocol.’’


Some information on the coronavirus’ impact on France as of Sunday:

  • 365 people died of the virus, including a 16-year-old girl, between Wednesday and Thursday.
  • A total of 2,314 people had died of the pandemic in France.
  • The number of confirmed cases stood at 37,575.
  • Curfew in France is 6 p.m. Blockades are put up after that.
  • French government says people should be prepared for a 45-day lockdown. It began March 17.

Miller said in Paris, people aren’t allowed to travel more than a kilometre when they do go out. Anyone caught without paperwork is fined.

“If I get on my bike and ride 10 kilometres, and I get caught, they’ll fine me.’’

Collicutt said she knows her daughter is safe and maintains daily contact.

“We are not worried because she is with such a great family who are taking it very seriously,’’ Collicutt said. “I tried to send her a package with small bottles of hand sanitizer for everyone as they have not been able to get it in France for weeks.’’

Unfortunately, due to the lockdown, Miller wasn’t able to sign for it and the package was sent back to her mother.

Miller, who plans to stay in Paris for at least another year, said being cooped up for long periods of time indoors isn’t easy, but she’s trying to take things in stride and stay as occupied as she can.

“I take care of the kids and they have a routine, so I just kind of go with them,’’ she laughed.


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