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President Emmanuel Macron was to hold a meeting on Wednesday afternoon with the head of government and several ministers on the arrangements to be put in place to allow an upcoming “reopening” of the country. At the same time, the executive could announce new health restrictions on Thursday, such as local lockdowns.
Status quo or a turn of the screw? The French government must decide on new health restrictions, such as local confinements, in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic which is increasing in certain territories, but is not exploding for the moment at the national level.
However, the executive hopes “a return to a more normal life (…) perhaps from mid-April”, even if in the meantime will take place “weeks of heavy weather”, declared Wednesday March 3 on government spokesman Gabriel Attal, specifying that Jean Castex will hold a press conference on Thursday March 4.
“The return to a more normal life is in sight, the places which make our social life will reopen, it is the horizon at the end of the tunnel that we must have in sight”, thanks to the vaccination, he added. , reaffirming that the government intended to maintain a “differentiated response” to a “heterogeneous” situation in the territories. Gabriel Attal also spoke of “devices and protocols that could allow the country to be reopened cautiously, but surely in the near future”.
In the meantime, it is the question of extending the weekend confinements to new territories that will be addressed at the health defense council meeting on Wednesday around the head of state.
Worrisome situation despite the impact of vaccinations
Monday, Emmanuel Macron had given a prospect of leaving the tunnel, assuring that “we must hold out for a few more weeks, four to six weeks”, between maintaining restrictions, such as the curfew at 6 p.m., and vaccinations to curb the epidemic.
“Even if we observe the very likely impact of vaccination, and in particular on the most vulnerable because of their age, the situation remains worrying,” said Geneviève Chêne, director of the French public health agency. , Wednesday morning. According to her, “overall, the death rate decreased slightly in mid-February, by -5%”.
France has exceeded 3 million people who received a first dose of vaccine, including 1.6 vaccinated with two doses, mostly elderly people and caregivers, and the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, dangled a acceleration in March, with “a first vaccination” promised to “6 million French”.
Faced with this prospect, Emmanuel Macron must also meet Wednesday late afternoon Jean Castex and the ministers concerned to study the different scenarios for reopening public places and the outlines of a possible “health pass” to access them.
Pas-de-Calais and Seine-Saint-Denis beyond the maximum alert threshold
In the immediate future, twenty departments, including the entire Paris region, where the English variant of the virus, more contagious, represents more than half of new cases of Covid-19, are still under increased surveillance. Some have seen their incidence rate skyrocket, such as Pas-de-Calais and Seine-Saint-Denis, which exceed 400 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days, well above the alert threshold maximum set at 250 by the health authorities.
The situation remains very critical in the agglomeration of Dunkirk, where the incidence rate has exceeded one thousand per 100,000 inhabitants, but also in the community of municipalities of neighboring Hauts-de-Flandre, where it is approaching 900.
As a result of the tense situation in hospitals, the transfers of intensive care patients from the Dunkirk hospital are no longer only to establishments in the region but also outside, with two patients evacuated on Tuesday by helicopter to the hospital du Havre, in Normandy.
The first medical evacuation of four coronavirus patients hospitalized in Reunion to the metropolis is also scheduled this week in the face of the saturation of the island’s hospitals.
Slight lull in Moselle and the Alpes-Maritimes
At the national level, the number of patients with Covid-19 treated in intensive care, the most serious cases, continues to increase, with 3,586 patients on Tuesday, but if some territories are saturated, the total remains far from the peaks of the 2e wave (4,900) and even more of the first (7,000). 301 new deaths were also recorded in hospitals on Tuesday, a rate that remains stable.
As for the contaminations detected, they experienced a further increase but no explosion last week, with 145,419 people tested positive between Monday and Saturday, against 136,314 the previous week. And if some territories are experiencing a constant progression of the epidemic, other departments are experiencing a slight lull, such as the Moselle or the Alpes-Maritimes.