After an outbreak of contaminations, the Covid-19 epidemic seems to be regressing and the curves of new hospital admissions are stabilizing in France, but “it is too early to proclaim victory” warns the government, faced with the Christmas challenge.
“For ten consecutive days, the number of new Covid-19 diagnoses has been decreasing, the test positivity rate and the incidence rate have fallen. Everything therefore suggests that we have passed an epidemic peak”, underlines the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, in an interview with the group of regional newspapers Ebra.
“We are regaining control over the epidemic,” he summed up, a month after the first curfews in major cities, which had been followed by a new confinement on October 30. “But we have not yet conquered the virus (…) Clearly, it is too early to claim victory and relax our efforts”, warned Olivier Véran, stressing that “the level of diagnoses remains high, between 20,000 and 30,000 (cases) per day “. Far from the target of 5,000 daily cases which had been set by Emmanuel Macron when he announced the confinement on October 28.
If France is approaching the symbolic milestone of 2 million positive cases recorded since the start of the epidemic, the French public health agency (Spf) noted on Friday a “slight drop” in new cases for the week of November 2 to 8 .
This slowdown seems to be starting to have an effect on hospital admissions. Sunday, Public Health France reported 17,390 new hospitalizations over the last seven days, a downward trend since November 9.
At the same time, 2,761 Covid-19 patients have been admitted to intensive care units over the last seven days, while this indicator still exceeded 3,000 at the start of last week.
– “sheaves” always full –
But with more than 33,000 people currently hospitalized, including 4,896 in intensive care units, almost all of the initial capacity in the country, the burden is still very high.
“It seems that there is an inflection of the curve of new cases but the hospitals are always full, the resuscitations are always full, so we are not there yet”, summarized on Europe 1 Philippe Juvin, head of emergencies of the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris and LR mayor of La Garennes-Colombes.
It is in this context that the government faces the challenge of the end of the year holidays, with Christmas and New Year’s Day on the horizon. How far to allow family reunions? Will the trips be able to take place? And when will the announcements fall?
“The uncertainties (…) are still too numerous to project precisely”, declared Olivier Véran, while promising a reduction in containment if the trajectory is maintained, “without (it) lifting completely”. In an interview with Le Monde this weekend, Jean Castex had already closed the door “before long” to “festive, family gatherings in halls”.
The government is also faced with increasingly pressing demands to reopen all businesses as quickly as possible, beyond so-called “essential” goods, to save them from bankruptcy.
After several demonstrations this weekend, in Nice and Marseille in particular, the LR president of the Ile-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse, called on BFM-TV / RMC for this reopening from November 27, the day of “Black Friday “, so that this gigantic promotional operation does not only benefit online commerce.
For now, the government is raising the possibility of a reopening on December 1, but cafes and restaurants would not be among the establishments authorized to reopen the curtain.