France is waiting for lightened containment, many unresolved questions

When and how to reopen stores? Should we launch massive screening operations? Many questions remain unanswered before the alleviation of confinement in France, while the death toll from Covid-19 continues to climb rapidly in hospitals and nursing homes.

Health Minister Olivier Véran will draw up a new picture of the situation on Thursday at 6 p.m., but no big announcement on health restrictions is expected before Emmanuel Macron’s intervention next week.

The only certainty, repeated by several members of the government in recent days: it will be an “adapted” confinement, or a “gradual” exit, rather than a real deconfinement. “Braking provisions” will be maintained, warned Prime Minister Jean Castex, who brings together the leaders of parties and political groups on Friday.

With 15,960 new admissions to the hospital over the last seven days (against around 20,000 between 6 and 10 November), including 2,558 in intensive care units (against 3,000 at the height of the crisis), the pace of arrivals to the hospital decreases slightly and allows relief to be considered for caregivers, but the total number of people hospitalized remains high, at 32,842, including 4,775 in real terms.

“Today we have very clearly fewer new cases” but “hospitals which are still very full”, summed up the head of the emergency department of the Parisian hospital Georges-Pompidou, Philippe Juvin, on CNews.

– more than 46,000 dead –

In total, 46,698 Covid-19 patients have died in hospital or nursing home since the start of the epidemic in March, a toll which continues to increase to more than 400 per day in the hospital.

No bars or restaurants open, no festivities, Beaujolais Nouveau therefore arrives Thursday in a gloomy atmosphere.

For their part, professional organizations have been pressuring for several days to reopen so-called “non-essential” businesses as soon as possible, but after pushing for November 27, the date of “Black Friday”, the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire asked distributors to postpone this gigantic commercial operation.

“Is it really necessary to carry out a promotional operation which will either not benefit physical businesses because they will be closed, or induce a rush in the same physical businesses because we will have opened? It’s absurd? “, supported, on LCI, the Minister in charge of Industry Agnès Pannier-Runacher.

The representatives of the traders are to be received Friday by several members of the government to discuss a “reinforced sanitary protocol” conditioning the reopening.

Other questions still have to be decided by the executive: what about bars and restaurants; to what extent allow travel and family reunions at Christmas; should the limit of one hour and one kilometer be maintained; continue to strongly advocate teleworking?

Faced with it, the government also has the challenge of planning a vaccination campaign, while the ongoing trials give hope for its arrival in the first half of 2021, and to improve the strategy of screening and isolation of infected people, after the ‘failure of the triptych “test, trace, isolate” on leaving the first confinement and then when the epidemic resumed at the end of the summer.

Several doctors and experts are pleading for massive screening operations. “On the territory, we are able to organize the vote of 58 million French people in a weekend. So, why would we not be able to use the same type of structure for, instead of going in the ‘school next to you to go to the voting booth, to go to the school to undergo a test which will take you less than an hour “, defended Philippe Amouyel, professor of public health at the Lille University Hospital, on RMC / BFM-TV.

“This is what will isolate those who transmit the virus when they do not know it, these are the asymptomatic cases”, he said.

“What could make sense is to regularly test the entire population of a given territory, as soon as we are able to make contact tracing… and we ensure that all positive people are well isolated. “, Olivier Véran explained on Tuesday during a trip. While specifying that it was still a “reflection” and that “we do not yet have the feedback” of the operations carried out in Slovakia or Liverpool.

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