Locked-down Paris takes to balconies to applaud health workers

PARIS (Reuters) - Residents of the French capital, subject to a virtual lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak, stepped out on their balconies on Tuesday evening to applaud healthcare workers in a collective act of solidarity.

Over the course of Tuesday, messages had been circulating on social media in Paris encouraging people to gather at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT) to show their gratitude for doctors and nurses on the front line of fighting the outbreak.

Barred from stepping outside their homes without a justification approved by the state, Parisians instead made the show of support from the balconies of their apartment buildings, according to Reuters witnesses around the city.

France’s death toll from the coronavirus has reached 148 and a total of 6,600 people have been confirmed as infected.

On a residential street in Paris’ 14th district, on the left bank of the River Seine, the sound of applause echoed through the streets at 8 p.m. One woman could be heard shouting: “Bravo to the carers!”

One resident of the street turned up the home music system and opened the windows to blast out a classic French ballad.

In the 18th district, on a hill dominated by the Sacre Coeur church, the sound of people clapping, cheering, and whooping could be heard at the designated time, according to a Reuters reporter.

The sentiment was not universal. On one residential street in the 16th borough, a stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomphe and home to some of the city’s most expensive real estate, there was silence and no people on their balconies.

Reporting by Caroline Pailliez and Gus Trompiz; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Peter Cooney