RF-LAB Covid-19 confinement diary

Due the the progression of the coronavirus in France in the middle of March 2020, the RF-lab, naturally, also had to close its doors to participate to the effort of reducing the impact of the virus.


Day-2: Sunday March 15 – the first signs

Mail from Inserm’s director: “We will be closing the labs tomorrow”. A WhatsApp group of the RF-lab was generated to keep contact.


Day-1: Monday March 16 – the day before

Didi and Joost were allowed to come to the lab to prepare the lockdown and bring the different “tools”  (computers and stuff) to the home of the lab members. While looking for the “stuff” several unexpected findings happened. A very dry “clementine” and some, also “very dry”, vegetables. 









See some of the home setups @Camille and @Colette below









It was decided to perform the last RF-lab experiment to not lose all things that were invested over the last 3 months. Ana, Guylène, Marie and Mélinda came to the lab and wrapped-up a 1.5 day experiment in an afternoon and evening (until 23h, Bravo les girls!!).  “Diner” was provided. See below.







Finally the lab closed. We will miss the lab!



Day 0: Tuesday March 17 – lockdown

France was locked down at noon. Very limited possibilities to go out to reduce the impact of the virus. Bénédicte shared the plans for a DIY mask.









Communication by mail and WhatsApp keeps us up-to-date.

Things starting to get organised outside the lab to keep us “busy”. For example making “cookies” @Audrey or cabbage @Ben to feed Stan in the hospital.










Day 1: Wednesday March 18 – a sunny day

Sunrise, …..and what a sunrise : corona has come but SPRING as well.

In addition to some remote science what has been done today to keep us busy?

Paper planes @Audrey and @Ben, and flowers @Bénédicte


@Colette looking for toilet paper…stock is very much down (like the dowjones and the CAC40) !

Homework @Stan…promising.









Sports: the dancefloor @Adeline and @Joost rowing in the garage




@Eric mind games

@Ana installed her homeoffice and informed us about a free month of Graphpad Prism (thanks guys @graphpad).










#Ophélie and @Camille started to grow their vegetables….Camille took a head start.










and @Stéphane went shopping…well he tried.

Take care and stay virus-free.



Day 2: Tuesday March 19 – COVID-19 is increasing its impact

Even if confined and COVID-19 is killing more-and-more around the world, the RF-lab members remain optimistic and, in parallel to their “home-office”, stay busy.


Food is important for the RF-lab members: see @Mégane, @Audrey, @Ophelie, @Mélinda, @Joost:























Colette is loosing it (OMG) !!!!



Some super initiatives were seen around the houses of the RF-lab members. Free bread for clinicians @ a bakery and helping neighbours.











@Stan, as an MD, is saving lives “MERCI” and passed by the RF-lab….empty corridors (but he forgot the feed the fish!).



…..and, of course, the creative activities at @Marie, @Camille and @Audrey/Ben:












@Camille it is not really clear what R is doing !? We want a picture of the final product.





Day 3-6: Friday to Monday, March 20-23, 2020


What follows is the 4-day “report”. We are slowly getting used to the confinement with “up-and-downs” for everybody.

@Julie B (as an MD having access from the hospital) passed by the lab to feed to fish and pick up some stuff. We were rebuked by the center of not having reported that (mea culpa),…but at least the fish were nourished!!!



Over the weekend again food was central (a typical characteristic for an RF-lab member).

Healthy food for @Colette, cookies @Audrey, aperitif @ Mégane.












More “activity” @ Ophélie and @Bene












Some healthy bread @Marie and @Melinda












and vuvuzela construction to thank the medics @Ben and Audrey…




Shopping remains complicated as @Marie showed…long waiting lines with little choice












and @Ophélie wins again the cake contest !!!!





Finally the situation is really serious, we should not forget this. Find below recital of a Paediatric Nephrologist in Milano (the European epicenter)


“The COVID-19 outbreak in Milan: our experience so far.

In the Italian region where I work, Lombardy, we have seen a continuous and rapid increase in Covid-19 cases and related deaths in adults, while in the pediatric population the problem fortunately seems to have been kept under control.  Furthermore, to date, in our unit no dialysed or transplanted child has tested positive.

Following is what we have learned so far from this epochal medical crisis:

1. Approximately 9% of those infected are healthcare workers: doctors, nurses, porters, ambulance workers. It is imperative that both hospital staff and those working throughout the territory use all the personal protective equipment available at all times. If our doctors and nurses fall ill, who will be there to dialyse our children? Staff meetings need to be short in duration and kept to a bare minimum. During meetings, masks should be worn, safety distances respected, and windows kept open.

2. In light of this, it is necessary to ask the health authorities to test not only symptomatic people, but also all those who have had contact with an infected person, but who are asymptomatic.  A recently published article in Science (attached, Yasemin please insert a link) demonstrates how healthy carriers can contribute to actively spreading the disease. This is true for healthcare staff as they run a high risk of becoming infected and therefore of infecting patients and members of their own families.

3. The behavior of each individual is important. Whoever can stay at home should stay at home and avoid any non-essential reason for social contact. The elderly and our patients need to be isolated as best possible and a high level of alert must be maintained. This means that every patient accessing the hospital must undergo a process of triage in order for us to differentiate between infected and non-infected patients.

In summary, agree on a plan of action with your hospital administration and, where possible, with your Ministry of Health. Demand that all cases of suspected infection or contact be tested, and, if possible, also healthcare staff. The extremely high number of infected healthcare workers represents a shocking statistic.

Keep fighting and stay safe.

Giovanni Montini

Nephrology, Dialysis and Transplant Unit, Milano







to be continued…