Pandemic in France – latest

Although I live in one of the so-called “red-zones” in France, life goes on as before. Everywhere I go, I wear a mask. I try to restrict the number of outings I make by shopping once a week though we do try to have a day, or afternoon “out” each week. The Domaine where I live has (thankfully) remained Covid-free which is fortunate as it does have a largely elderly population – you do know that doesn’t include us – and we’ve had a significant number of visitors/holiday makers during July and August.

But, if we look at France as a whole, with nearly 10,000 new coronavirus cases in one day, the country has broken a grim record of infections. So how bad are things really?

The virus continues to accelerate its spread, stated Santé Publique France’s most recent weekly report, published on last week on 10 September.

Here is a look at the latest key numbers.

  • 9,843 – new Covid-19 cases recorded in the last 24 hours on Thursday, 10 September, the highest number recorded since France began its mass-testing of the population.
  • 47,294 – the number of people who tested positive in France this week, up from 36,785 last week.
  • 20% – the increase in positive cases since last week. The growth rate seems to have slowed down since last week, when the total number of cases grew by 32 % on the previous week.
  • 902,815 – the total number of tests last week, slightly down from 1,059,303 the previous week.
  • 14.4 – the number of days it takes for the total number of cases to double (up from 13.8 days, which could indicate that the virus is spreading at a slightly slower rate).
  • 5.4% – the percentage of total tests that brought back a positive result, referred to as “positivity rate.” The rate grew from 4.9% the previous week. In early August it was 1.8%.
  • 52.7% – roughly half the people who test positive have either no symptoms or very mild ones.
  • 75 and above – the age group seeing the fastest increase in the number of new infections the past week.
  • 4,960 – the total number of Covid-19 hospital patients. While hospitals have seen patient flow increase, the total number of hospitalised patients remains low compared to the height of the pandemic in mid-April when over 32,000 people were hospitalised for Covid-19.
  • 574 – the total number of patients receiving intensive care treatment, up from 480 last week. This is the number that that authorities nervously watch as it is the best indicator of future death rates. The next few weeks will be a important as public health authorities fear that the high number of younger people infected will in turn infect older people who are more likely to become seriously ill.
  • 47% – nearly half of the total intensive care patients were either in the greater Paris Île-de-France region (35 percent) or the southern Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region (17 percent).
  • 19 – the latest recorded number of Covid-19 fatalities, up from 3 last week.
  • 42 – there are now 42 (up from 28) départements defined as ‘red zones’ by the health ministry, including two overseas départements. These are defined as areas where the virus circulation is active and more than 50 new cases per 100,000 people have been reported in the last seven days. Local authorities in red zones are given extra powers to impose restrictive measures if necessary.
  • 692 – the number of clusters currently being investigated by health authorities, up from 528 last week.

The French government was expected to announce new measures last Friday to stem the spread but there were none, just an acknowledgement that Covid-19 was putting ever greater pressure on hospitals and intensive care units. PM Castex did ask authorities in the hotspots of Bordeaux and Marseille to present suggestions to him to tackle the flaring rates in their areas, but did not announce any major moves to intervene to curb the spread.

After having been criticised in the spring for being “too centralised and monolithic in their response, it seems they now intend to leave each region or large city – the local prefect or government representative, not mayors or local politicians – take locally appropriate measures.

Despite condemnation from many quarters, an epidemiologist at the Pasteur Institute in Lille, said the government was right to remain prudent and refrain from going back to sweeping, general decisions. He further added:

I think it’s good that they have chosen a solution where they don’t take the same decisions everywhere. It shows that they have listened to the public opinion.

You can’t really argue with that, can you?