It will be a couple of weeks before people get back to work in France. But for now, the country's dentists are feeling especially vulnerable.
Many of them say they won't have enough personal protective equipment, or PPE, to protect them from the coronavirus as they treat their patients. So they're protesting in a unique way: They're stripping down.
Dozens of dentists have taken pictures of themselves naked in their offices and posted the photos online with the hashtag #dentisteapoil — or, dentists in the buff. The photos are composed with carefully positioned props like books and flowers to conceal their private parts.
Dental surgeon Dr. Maud Braun-Reys posted a photo of herself naked in her office in Obernai, near Strasbourg, France. She also posted a naked photo of her 72-year-old father, Dr. Daniel Reys, who is also a dentist.
"If tomorrow the health ministry doesn't free up this talk of PPE that is currently blocked or give us the possibility to order, it will be like going naked to work," Braun-Reys said. "The fact is that because of the shortage of masks in the hospital, all dentists make a donation of their stock of PPE. So without protection for us and for our patients, it's really impossible to face COVID."
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The French dentists are joined by health specialists throughout Europe posing naked to demonstrate their vulnerability. In Germany, nude photos appear on a website urging politicians to ensure doctors and clinics have enough protective gear.
"I learned how to stitch wounds, why do I now have to learn how to stitch masks?" reads a placard held by a female doctor with a stethoscope and a red mask in one photo. The naked doctors said that outpatient and general practice care for COVID-19 patients was as important as hospital care, putting them on the front line in the fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
In response to the French dentists' protest, the country's government said it will provide the dentists extra masks when the country's lockdown begins to lift on May 11.
"Last week we announced an extra 150,000 FFP2 masks to be provided to them by the 11th of May to allow some cabinets [offices] to reopen and handle relative emergencies," a spokesperson for the French ministry of health told The World. "After the 11th of May, we will progressively reopen all dentists and provide the necessary PPE for this activity to be possible."
"It's not enough for 42,000 dentists. It will just only last for one day of work."
According to Braun-Reys, much more gear is needed: "It's not enough for 42,000 dentists. It will just only last for one day of work."
Braun-Reys noted that the images have shocked people around the world, particularly in the US. But the intention was not to draw attention to French dentists' naked bodies, she said.
"It's just to explain that we are totally defenseless," she said. "So it was really to shock maybe a little bit the opinion, but also to alert the authorities. And we are all united in this movement. All the dental profession is united. We have made 260 photos for the moment and it's going to grow and grow all over the world."
Reuters contributed to this report. Editor's note: A previous version of this story used the wrong image for Dr. Daniel Reys.
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