PJust in time for the French President’s visit on Wednesday, the Tour de France cyclists were tested. “All negative,” was the reassuring result. President Emmanuel Macron wants to see proof that France “can live with the virus”. This is officially the new strategy in Paris – a strict, nationwide lockdown is to be avoided. Hygiene rules and local restrictions should be enough to “live with the virus”. But in view of the increasing number of infections, a large part of the French doubt that the government is on the right track.
Not only are more and more French people – especially younger ones – infected with Corona. The number of patients who have to go to the hospital is also constantly increasing. The number of daily admissions has now exceeded the spring highs. On Monday, 545 people across France were hospitalized with severe symptoms, compared with 642 on Tuesday. This means that the number of new admissions of 460 patients per day has been exceeded at the first peak of the pandemic. The virus is particularly bad in Bordeaux and Marseille. Intensive care beds are becoming scarce in the hospitals in both cities.
“We’re not good at testing”
According to a survey by the Elabe Institute published on Wednesday, 62 percent of the French do not trust the government to bring the pandemic under control. Apparently, doubts are also growing among the president that the government has learned from the initial mistakes. At the latest Corona Defense Council in the Elysée Palace, Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Véran are said to have ruled to finally develop a clear test strategy, writes the weekly “Le Canard enchaîné”. “France is one of the most testing countries,” said Macron. “But it has to be tested properly, and we are not good at it,” criticized the head of state. France has enormously expanded its testing capacity. While only about 10,000 tests per day were carried out in April, the number rose to 150,000 tests per day at the end of August. More than a million smears are now taken every week. But this leads to an overload of the laboratories and long waiting times. Often times, suspects have to wait up to five days to receive their test results. The follow-up does not always work either, and the French go it alone with the Corona app is proving to be a fiasco.
The high number of infections in France is partly due to the fact that many more people are tested with no symptoms or with mild symptoms. In March and April these cases went largely undetected. Experts suspect that the virus was already widely spread among the French population when the pandemic broke out in early March. In this way, the virus spread unnoticed. But the high numbers of infections are not solely due to the increased test capacities. Younger French people in particular have taken the infection control measures lightly while on vacation and at parties to return to university and college. This is also due to the fact that the thesis was spread that younger people are hardly threatened by the virus.
French people with an immigrant background are particularly affected
As the rapporteur for the Covid 19 commission of inquiry in the Senate, Bernard Jomier, has now criticized, there is still a lack of a coherent strategy to mobilize all French. “The fight against the epidemic is left to a defense council that meets in camera in the Elysée. This is not how you can develop a health policy, ”Jomier told the newspaper“ Le Monde ”. Authoritarian decisions are the reason why the French do not feel responsible, criticized the former head of the health authority, the doctor William Dab. “The French are treated like children,” he said. There is still a lack of transparency. “The French are not informed whether there are clusters in their vicinity and cannot protect themselves,” he said on radio station France Inter.
A study by the national statistics agency Insee has shown that Covid diseases disproportionately affect French people with an immigrant background. In the Seine-Saint-Denis department in the north of Paris, where the proportion of immigrants is particularly high, the death rate in March and April rose by 368 percent for French people with black African roots and by 191 percent for French people from North Africa, according to Insee. Insee lists the cramped living space as one of the most important reasons. Social distancing is not possible for many. The majority of them are also dependent on public transport, which increases their risk of infection. French people with an immigrant background are also disproportionately employed in supermarkets, as cleaners or as suppliers.