“Slight deceleration of contaminations”, circulation of variants for the moment less intense than elsewhere: the Minister of Health Olivier Véran hopes “to be able to avoid” a new wave of the Covid-19 epidemic in France, but does not exclude not re-containment if necessary.
“The idea is to save time, to limit damage,” he told the Sunday Journal, two days after Prime Minister Jean Castex surprised the country by not announcing containment immediate.
“The slight deceleration of the contaminations can allow us to observe, during a few days, what will happen”, continued Mr. Véran, detailing what guided this choice.
When the decision not to reconfine “was taken Friday in the defense council, the incidence, that is to say the number of new daily cases, had increased little for four days. This is still the case today. hui “.
In addition, “the traces of virus in the wastewater, indirect signal, decrease in Île-de-France. Several weeks after its generalization, that can mean that the maximum effect of the curfew is felt”.
Finally, the results of the second flash survey on variants, which the minister received on Friday, show that the circulation of the English variant “is increasing – by 50% each week – but less intensely than abroad where increases of 70 to 100% have been noted “.
“The danger which we face is possible, even probable. But it is not certain”, analyzed the minister, while the publication of the first results of this investigation is expected in the week.
– Holiday window –
The Scientific Council “indicated (…) that we were not taking the risk of taking a week to observe what was happening”. “But if the incidence were to rise again, we would not hesitate. We never said that we would not reconfine in the next fortnight if it was necessary,” concluded Mr. Véran.
The indicators are still at a high level: nearly 27,000 Covid patients are hospitalized, not far from the peaks of the first and second waves (32,000 and 33,000). About 3,000 are in intensive care, less than the peaks of previous waves (4,900 in the fall, 7,000 in the spring).
And the pressure remains strong, since over the last seven days, there is an average of 20,000 new daily contaminations.
Faced with these figures, experts are divided and recognize that confinement is decided according to several criteria: health on the one hand, economic and social on the other.
“If you ask the doctor, I think that if you have to make difficult containment decisions, you have to take them early,” said on franceinfo Philippe Juvin, head of emergencies at the Georges Pompidou hospital and LR mayor of La Garenne -Doves.
“Now, if you ask the citizen or politician that I am, I understand that the President of the Republic has made his decision because the French have a level of acceptability of confinement which has become limited,” he added .
“Containment remains very likely. The question is: when will it occur?”, Added the infectious disease specialist Anne-Claude Crémieux in the JDD, for whom “the current reflection on the level of restrictions to be put in place is understandable “.
According to her, the government could “act during the school holidays, which generate a decrease in activity and therefore in the circulation of the virus”.
The February holidays will begin on Saturday for the first zones. In total, they will be spread over four weeks in the three zones.
– Soon three vaccines –
According to an Ifop poll for the JDD, a large majority of French people (60%) would be in favor of re-containment, but not certain restrictions, including the closure of schools and non-food businesses.
In the meantime, the most visible new measure is the closure of non-food shopping centers of more than 20,000 m2. Nearly 400 centers or stores are affected, according to the government, including Le Forum des Halles in Paris, Part-Dieu in Lyon or Euralille in Lille.
In addition, borders with countries outside the European Union are now closed, “unless there is a compelling reason”, and to return from an EU country a negative PCR test is required (except for cross-border workers).
Finally, in this race against time, France is continuing its vaccination campaign. Nearly 1.48 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, including 41,000 who have had two.
However, there has been a slowdown in recent days, attributed to supply difficulties. “I regret that nearly 50,000 meetings had to be postponed,” admitted Mr. Véran.
According to him, the High Authority for Health (HAS) will vote on the AstraZeneca vaccine on Tuesday, approved at European level on Friday.
There is no doubt that it will become the third authorized in France, but it is not certain that it will be recommended to the elderly.