Frédéric Platini, the Secretary-General of the Monaco Red Cross, spoke to Monaco Tribune to discuss actions implemented in the Principality since the beginning of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Fully committed to the services of city hall, the Monaco Red Cross (MRC) is working tirelessly to help Monaco’s citizens deal with the coronavirus pandemic in the most efficient way possible. The secretary-general of the MRC, Frédéric Platini, was keen to explain the different aid measures put in place.

Frédéric, how is the Red Cross managing the current situation?
It is completely manageable for us right now. We have reserves of volunteers and staff if the crisis were ever to escalate. You have to remember that the country is already well-organised, with a smaller population, unlike our Italian neighbours with whom I am in regular contact. [The Monaco Red Cross recently donated to its Italian counterpart].

We are delivering nearly 500 meals a day

Various actions have been carried out by the Monaco Red Cross since the start of the health crisis, particularly in terms of logistics. Can you explain to us what is currently happening?
Regarding logistics, we are stepping up our service given the growing demand. Working with city hall, we are delivering nearly 500 meals a day, and we anticipate this is likely to increase. This is a service which has been growing since the beginning of the crisis, implemented by city hall before the outbreak. We will be able to keep up with demand. In terms of what we at the Red Cross do independently, we run errands for people, whether for food or medications, so that we can provide for people who don’t feel like going out.

The Red Cross has also set up a call centre here in Monaco?
Absolutely. It is a government-run call centre, managed by the Department of Social Affairs. We are putting our staff on standby to answer questions. From the beginning of the epidemic, until March 17th, we received many calls until the government announced and explained measures. This service reduced the workload of our operators. The call centre works alongside the home medical monitoring centre, both of which are well-equipped to manage the current situation. We are helping the follow-ups taking place in the homes of infected patients to check vitals, allowing doctors to stay at the centre. At the same time, we can relay them information to find out whether the patient needs to be hospitalised or not. We have set up an anonymous helpline which allows people to speak with Red Cross volunteers who are trained in providing support when you are feeling unwell or in psychological distress. If necessary, we can forward calls to psychologists and professionals.

Are Red Cross’s regular social services still in place?
Of course. Our regular service remains open, meaning that those relying on the Red Cross still have access to economic assistance.

We managed to get nearly 200,000 to Monaco

How much is the MRC spending right now?
There are two main costs. There is what we spend as the Monaco Red Cross internationally. We have already spent roughly €430,000 between the International Federation of the Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as the Italian and Burkina Faso-based sections of the charity. This should increase as we receive more requests for aid. Then there is expenditure on physical materials. We have helped the State supply masks, as we managed to get nearly 200,000 to Monaco. It makes for additional expense, but it is more or less made up by the incoming donations and how they are increasing. We need the support of the population, our donors and Monaco’s industries to then face the second problem of economic repercussions upon those who will experience financial difficulties.

Have you sensed a real mobilisation of Monaco’s residents towards the Red Cross since the beginning of the crisis?
It has been very positive, yes. Our regular donors haven’t failed to rise to the occasion. Some businesses that were not on our radar before have now also been a great help. We are working with some sporting associations. All the economic players in Monaco are mobilising with us. I can only ask that this effort continues and that it moves in this direction because the crisis isn’t just a health one; it is economic too. It makes us deal with all social sectors.

Are new measures going to be implemented in the coming weeks?
The current innovation right now is the anonymous helpline. Now that the lockdown will end May 3rd, we are thinking of how to step up this service as well as our logistical aspect. We are also looking at everything that can be carried out in addition to what we have already put in place. We were, for example, at the Ventimiglia migrant reception centre last Friday because they didn’t have any protective equipment and had problems with supplies. We are continuing to carry out any possible side missions that COVID-19 is causing.

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