France’s four scenarios facing the epidemic

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This strategy, drawn up on the basis of an opinion from the Scientific Council published on June 2, is intended above all to be differentiated according to the territories.

“The idea is to have the most appropriate reaction possible depending on the situation”, underlines the Ministry of Health to AFP, where we take advantage of the experience acquired after the first wave of spring .

FOUR INDICATORS

Four main indicators guide the authorities’ thinking and allow them to see in which scenario each territory is situated.

First, the incidence rate, that is to say the number of cases listed in the population of a region, a department, a city …

Then, the reproduction rate (R0), that is to say the number of people that each patient infects. Above 1, the circulation of the virus accelerates.

Then, the test positivity rate, namely the number of positive tests out of the total tests performed.

And finally, the percentage of patients hospitalized for Covid-19.

Other data can still come into play, such as the number of tests carried out, or the number of cases in young people.

Once these figures have been collected, “each decision-making is always preceded by a risk analysis and is carried out with the territorial players”. The prefect and the director of the Regional Health Agency are systematically associated, explains the Ministry of Health. In short: “no decision is taken without consultation with the field”.

SCENARIOS 1 AND 2: CONTROLLED EPIDEMIC, DIFFERENTIATED MEASURES

While waiting for vaccines or treatments to be available, the challenge is to remain in scenario 1, in which the epidemic is under control, with stabilized indicators, thanks to the triptych “test – trace – isolate” and barrier actions respected. . This is the scenario that prevails year after year over most of the country.

However, some territories entered scenario 2 with “one or more critical clusters, signs of a local resumption of the epidemic”, according to the typology of the Scientific Council. In this case, “localized and early measures” should be applied.

This is the case in Mayenne or in the Metropolis of Lille where the compulsory wearing of the mask was recently decided. Targeted reconfigurations could also be pronounced, like what has already happened in countries neighboring France.

SCENARIOS 3 AND 4: LOSS OF CONTROL AND GENERAL RECONFINATION

These are the two scenarios that the authorities want to avoid at all costs.

In scenario 3, the epidemic would resume “quietly”. The indicators would then deteriorate, without any success in tracing the chains of contamination. The measures would be reinforced (tests, barrier gestures, individual isolation, teleworking) down to the regional level, according to several specific “very detailed and ready-to-use” protocols which have been developed for populations at risk (precarious , elderly), large metropolises, or even hospitals.

In Scenario 4, “the epidemic reaches a critical stage” because efforts to contain it have failed. It could then lead to a general reconfinement as France experienced from mid-March to mid-May, with its catastrophic effects on the economy in particular.

WHAT LEGAL ARSENAL?

During the first wave of the epidemic, exceptional measures were taken, such as limiting certain movements, by establishing a “state of health emergency” which ended on July 10, except in Guyana and Mayotte.

However, and until October 30, 2020, the government can by decree impose certain restrictions on traffic, opening of shops, etc.

Thanks to article 50 of a decree of July 10, the prefects are also empowered to take a series of measures in each department, like the prefect of the North for the Lille metropolitan area.

If, however, it was necessary to return to strict re-containment, even localized, the government would again have to declare a state of health emergency in all or part of the country. This can be done by simple decree in the Council of Ministers.

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