Last week France’s health minister warned that new measures might be needed to deal with the new, more infectious, variants of the Covid-19 virus to avoid ‘an epidemic within an epidemic’. The major worry was around the new, more contagious variants of the virus discovered in the UK and South Africa, which now account for 2,000 new cases a day – around 10% of the total in France.
So, where are we?
Case numbers of new Covid cases currently stand at an average of 20,000 a day – considerably less than the 50,000 a day that France saw when it went into lockdown for a second time in October, but a number that has been growing at a rate of 10%/week for the last month.
My local hospitals in Nice (the Alpes-Maritimes has the highest incidence rate in France) have been forced to transfer intensive care patients to neighbouring regions. The hard-hit eastern regions of Grand Est and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté have also been transferring intensive care patients.
There are currently 27,000 Covid patients in hospital of whom 3,100 are in intensive care – the occupancy rate of intensive care units has jumped from 50% to 60% since Christmas.
A last-minute meeting of France’s Defence Council last Friday ended with no return to lockdown, although extra restrictions were put in place:-
The current rules including the 6pm curfew will remain in place.
France wants to do everything it can to avoid another lockdown. The coming days and weeksill be decisive. We all have to be very vigilant.