Unfortuntely, as a top health official has warned, La Belle France is far from its goal of reducing the number of new Covid-19 infections to under 5,000 a day. This could have grave consequences for everyone’s Christmas, or not if like us you were not planning on spending it with anyone else.
Jérôme Salomon, Chief of Santé Publique France. (Image: AFP)
President Emmanuel Macron had promised to end the current partial-lockdown on 15th December, but only if the second wave of coronavirus infections is brought within the 5,000 cases mark. His goal of lifting the travel restrictions in time for the Festive Season appeared in jeopardy this week, with senior health official Jérôme Salomon saying the government’s targets would be very hard to meet. He told a press conference:
Despite all our efforts, we are still faced with a high risk of a rebound in the epidemic and France was still a long way off from its objective of getting under the threshold of 5,000 new Covid-19 cases a day.
From a high of 50,000-60,000 cases a day in late October the number of infections has fallen to on average 10,000 a day over the past week but that now appears to have tapered off. This might well be due to the actions of 60% of the French public who claim not to be strictly observing the rules. I’m part of the 40% who are observing both the spirit and the letter.
The chart below from Our World in Data shows how the drop in cases in France has stagnated.
On Sunday, France recorded 11,022 new infections over the previous 24 hours. On Monday, the number was 3,198, but there is usually a weekend lag in reporting resulting in numbers dropping on Mondays.
In hospital intensive care wards, the number of patients stood at 3,210 – above the target of 3,000 maximum, although that number was continuing its steady decrease from nearly 5,000 mid-November to the current level. Intensive care numbers lag around two-to-three weeks behind case numbers due to the incubation time of the virus.
France entered a second lockdown on 30th October. The restrictions were eased somewhat on 28th November, when businesses selling “non-essential” goods and services, such as bookshops and hairdressers, were allowed to reopen. On the couple of occasions I have ventured out to buy food, it has felt as if everyone and his dog was out, much like last minute shopping on Christmas Eve. Of course, everyone in France still has to fill out attestations (permission forms) whenever they leave their home.
Bars and restaurants remain closed and will not reopen on 15th December even if the government does decide to ahead with lifting the partial-lockdown. Macron has outlined a later reopening for these on 20th January, but once again only if the number of new cases remains below 5,000 per day.
Let’s hope numbers start to move in the right direction again so that those who want to can spend Christms with some of their relatives.