Table 1

Recurring topics in La Peste. Each topic is accompanied by two examples from the novel and one concerning COVID-19, extracted from online press.

La PesteCOVID-19 (online press)
Epidemiological monitoring and accuracy in figures‘It was only in the longer term, by noting the increase in the death rate, that people became aware of the truth. The fifth week produced 321 deaths and the sixth 345.’ (Camus 2002, Part II)
‘Rieux waited for the general statistics to be published, as they were at the start of each week.’ (Camus 2002, Part IV)
‘The global death toll has reached 164,938, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre. The total number of infections worldwide is at 2 394 291.’ (Skopeliti 2020)
Health authorities’ role‘People called for radical measures, accusing the authorities of inaction, and some families who had seaside homes were already talking about escaping to them. But the following day the agency announced that the phenomenon had abruptly stopped and that the rodent control service had gathered only an insignificant number of dead rats.’ (Camus 2002, Part I)
‘The Prefecture had for a long time wanted to appease public anxieties –something that the plague had not allowed it to do- and was deciding to get the medical experts together for a report on the topic.’ (Camus 2002, Part IV)
‘The minister (…) did draw attention to the collaboration of the majority of Spain’s regions with the Health Ministry’s efforts to combat the second wave of the virus.’ (Díez and Casqueiro 2020)
Media coverage‘…a new paper has been launched, The Courrier of the Epidemic, with the aim of “informing our fellow-citizens, in a spirit of total objectivity, about the advances or decline in the illness.’ (Camus 2002, Part II)
‘For example, you could see the most intelligent among them pretending to search the newspapers, or radio broadcasts, for reasons to believe that the plague would shortly end.’ (Camus 2002, Part III)
‘The figures also show broader concerns about low trust in the media, with the population more approving of how the government and the Conservative party have handled the crisis than how the media has covered it.’ (Waterson 2020)
Hygienic measures and transformation of facilities‘They were trying to encourage essential hygiene, and were checking out lofts and cellars that had not been visited by the disinfection squads.’ (Camus 2002, Part II)
‘There was only one public place that was not transformed into a hospital or an isolation facility.’ (Camus 2002, Part IV)
‘Already, four expeditionary hospitals in Africa (…) have been moved from military bases where doctors train in treating battlefield casualties to cities where COVID-19 outbreaks have stretched the healthcare systems.’ (Morello 2020)
Medical achievements‘Rieux and he hoped that a serum made with cultures from the very microbe that was infecting the town would be more directly effective.’ (Camus 2002, Part II)
‘Castel’s serum suddenly achieved a string of successes it had not previously achieved.’ (Camus 2002, Part V)
‘In a study of about 4000 healthcare personnel, police, firefighters and other essential workers, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention found that the vaccines reduced the risk of infection by 80 percent after one shot.’ (Sun 2021)
Everyday life disturbances‘Intercity telephone calls, permitted at first, caused such overcrowding in public phone booths and on the lines that they were entirely stopped for a few days, then strictly limited to what were described as urgent cases, such as deaths, births and marriages.’ (Camus 2002, Part II)
‘So Oran took on an unusual appearance. The number of pedestrian rose and, at slack times, many people, who had been reduced to inactivity by the closing of shops and some offices, filled the streets and cafés.’ (Camus 2002, Part II)
‘At this time, patrons may also eat and drink indoors at the bar counter, as long as they keep a distance of 1.5 metres between them.’ (Santaeulalia and Linde 2020)
Funeral habits disturbance‘All the formalities were simplified and in general funerary pomp and circumstance were discarded.’ (Camus 2002, Part III)
‘A decree from the Prefect expropriated the occupants from graves leased in perpetuity and all the remains dug up were sent off to the crematorium.’ (Camus 2002, Part III)
‘With more than 200,000 officially dead from the virus — many experts say the real number is probably much higher — COVID-19 has upended these ancient end-of-life traditions for many.’ (Mogul 2021)
Economic consequences‘The trucks turned on their sides and the solitary heaps of barrels or sacks showed that trade, too, had succumbed to the plague.’ (Camus 2002, Part II)
‘…it disrupted the whole of economic life and so created quite a large number of unemployed.’ (Camus 2002, Part III)
‘The travel sector is bracing itself for the collapse of yet more holiday companies as businesses continue to struggle to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.’ (Choat 2020)