French Health Minister Speaks on the Current Situation
French Health Minister, Olivier Veran, gave a press conference on the current sanitary situation.
He has not announced any new measures or changes as yet but did confirm that although the 6pm curfew seems to be effective for the original Covid 19 virus, it is unlikely to be sufficient in the face of the new strains.
In his rapid 15 minute conference, he addressed the rising numbers, confirming that new cases remain far from the 50,000 per day that we saw in autumn, sitting currently around 20,000 per day. but are still rising on average by 10% per week.
He also said that the difference in numbers between the east and the west of the country is diminishing. Where the 6pm curfew was enforced early, the measure seems to be showing a certain level of efficacy but because this was not nationwide, the 3rd wave has been slowed by not entirely avoided.
In the weeks after the second lockdown, there were fewer hospital admissions than discharges. In December, the numbers were equal, but in the last few weeks, hospital admissions have overtaken discharges meaning pressure on the health services is once again rising.
Indeed, there are currently 27,000 cases being treated in hospital, of which 3,100 in intensive care.
He announced good news and bad.
The good news: compared to in the autumn, we now have vaccinations available and the programme is being rolled out to reach more and more people, but this will take time.
The bad news: unfortunately, now we are facing new variants that are more contagious than the original. These ‘localised’ strains are now circulating all over the world, including in France. All possible resources and measures have been made available to identify, diagnose and study the new strains: DNA sequencing, PCF tests specific to new variants, the development of contact tracing etc.
Regarding the number of cases identified in France for these new strains, at the beginning of January, 500 cases were recorded. This has now jumped to more than 2000 cases per day – mostly cases of the British variant but also the South African.
In other countries, particularly the UK, the effects of these new variants are showing a much higher rate of contagion. Verlan commented that a 6pm curfew would likely be insufficient in preventing the same thing happening in France.
Health is the primary concern and all measures will be taken to protect this, whilst taking into consideration of the real psychological effects of the sacrifices being asked of French citizens and residents.
Home visits will continue to check the social and sanitary conditions of confirmed cases required to self-isolate, and also to test the other members of the household.
For over a year, France has shown solidarity and community spirit, and this needs to continue in the coming weeks and months.