Latest government announcements
Another government announcement, communicated by Prime Minister Jean Castex and a number of other ministers on Thursday 4th February, regarding the current situation and next steps.
Although a 3 week lockdown has been imposed in the French overseas department of Mayotte, this is NOT the case in mainland France.
Assessment of situation
On average, the current figures show:
- 20,000 new contaminations
- 1600 new hospitalisations
- 320 deaths
- 14% of new cases are new variants (British, South African, Brasilian)
Castex confirmed that the situation remains fragile and worrying but does not reflect the same trajectory as neighbouring countries. Indeed, we are not facing a significant 3rd wave, figures and rates are relatively stable and some of lowest in Europe.
This is thanks to strict but responsible and coherent measures, adapting to the ever-changing situation. It is also thanks to the responsible actions of French citizens and residents.
However we must not lower our guard in the face of new variants, which are more contagious than the original.
These new variants are not a potential risk, but a real risk. They are already present and circulating in France and represent 14% of new cases, even more in certain regions (against 3,3% on the 8th January).
A 3rd lockdown has been considered because the first two were effective in significantly slowing the spread of the virus. It has been ruled out for the moment because it also had a significant economic and psycho-social impacts, which are not justified by the current figures.
Castex clearly stated that although confinement is not being implemented today, if the situation deteriorates, the government will not hesitate to enforce it.
Confirmation of latest measures
Castex highlighted the worry that the ongoing situation could lead to ‘normalisation’ or a ‘trivialisation’ of the figures. He reminded viewers that the numbers were still high and exerting too great a pressure on health service.
Aside from the huge task of dealing with patients suffering from Covid 19 and the new variatns, he deplored the fact that many non-Covid related treatments are being delayed and postponed, which poses an additional risk to the country’s health.
Although no new measures are being implemented, he reiterated that now is not the time to relax existing measures and confirmed that we are in a race against the clock, where every day counts.
1st measure : border closures
Since Sunday 31st January, international borders outside of Europe have been closed. That means that arrivals and departures outside of the EU, including French overseas territories, are only possible for urgent reasons. It is still possible for citizens and residents to return home.
To arrive in France from an EU country, regardless of the mode of transport, travellers are required to provide proof of a negative PCR test.
Interregional travel remains possible in France for the school holidays within the respect of the 6pm-6am curfew.
2nd measure : closure of large shopping centres
Also since Sunday, over 25,000 shopping centres have been closed. These are larger zones, over 20,000m², to avoid contact between larger numbers of people. Affected employees and businesses will be economically supported, as has been the case throughout the pandemic.
3rd measure : teleworking
Distance working is a long-term, durable strategy but the crisis requires urgent measures.
The government has confirmed that there are still too many businesses, who could but are not enforcing teleworking.
He said that public administrations should be leading the way and assured viewers that he would ensure this was the case.
After 1 month of the vaccine programme, over 1,5 million vaccinations have been administered, well over the target of 1 million.
Although other countries may appear to be acting quicker, the government defends its decision to proceed differently.
France’s primary objective is to protect the most vulnerable and the most exposed. As such, speed should not be at the detriment of efficiency and efficacy. France prefers to effectively vaccinate a smaller number, rather than partially vaccinate a larger number.
1/3 of all Covid-related deaths are recording amongst residents in EPHADS (retirement homes), even though this demographic represents only 1% of the French population. By next week, all EPHAD residents who want to be vaccinated, will be.
Health Mnister Veran indicated that more and more French people are accepting the idea of the vaccination and over 2 million appointments have already been made.
Of course, administering the vaccine is dependant on delivery and both France and the EU are doing their upmost to secure a supply.
The government has pledged that all volunteers over 75s and those with serious comorbidities will have received their vaccines by the end of May, extending to all volunteering adults by end of summer.
An additional 1,7 million appointments will be made available for the 1st vaccine over the next few days, 500,000 for February and 1,2 million for March.
The newly approved AstraZeneca vaccine will mean an additional 4 million people will have had the 1st vaccine by the end of February. Priority will be given to health professionals and those aged 50 – 65 with comorbidities.
France will also actively produce 4 new vaccines: Moderna from March, BioNTech from April, Curevac, if authorised, from May, and Sanofi from June.
Tester, Alerter, Protéger
4 tests are done every second in France with over 12,000 test centres nationally administering tests with no need of prescription and no charge.
92% of results are provided within 24 hours, even 20 minutes for the antigen tests.
If you have a headache or a fever, there is a high probability of contagion and you should seek a test in the slightest doubt.
New tests will be authorised after the February school holidays which will allow saliva testing for the youngest and those who cannot be tested through the nose.
The government continues to reinforce the trace contacting programme, providing training and support for millions of additional phone operators, who track those who have been in contact with positive cases within 24 hours of the results.
They are also continuing to develop the home help scheme, whereby nurses pay home visits to testing the other members of family and provide support.
He reminded viewers of the importance of the Tous Anti Covid app.
In the case of a positive test, Veran reminded viewers of the need to self-isolate 7 days and following a subsequent negative test, continue to movements and contacts for a further 7 days.
Because self-isolation operates on a basis of trust rather than legal obligation, all measures have been put in place to encourage and support the respecting of advice.
Since the 10th January, employees have been able to declare their self-isolation with assurance maladie and download a certificat médical that justifies their absence and entitles them to sick pay, without the usual unpaid delay.
New social support departments are being organised by the communes to assist the home visits by nurses and help those in self-isolation with daily tasks such as shopping and administration.
The priority is to limit the spread of the new variants, and buy enough time to effectively vaccinate. The measures should not be viewed as discipline but as respect and solidarity!
Nevertheless, over the past week, penalty fines (135€) for breaking curfew have increased by 53% and there has been a stricter application of rules for businesses.
Police enforcement will continue to tighten over the coming weeks.