The 4th wave has passed, the national incidence rate has fallen below the alert threshold (50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per week) and hospitals are slowly emptying their covid patients (6,629 on Tuesday, including 1,111 in care reviews). All the lights are therefore green, but there is no question of slowing down.
Indeed, this improvement does not prevent the government from applying on the scheduled date the final restrictions promised to the unvaccinated. Starting with the end of the free “comfort” tests, announced in July by Emmanuel Macron. Nearly seven million partially or unvaccinated adults must therefore now pay between € 22 and € 44 for each screening allowing them to obtain a health pass.
A cost of 6.2 billion euros this year
Even if exceptions remain possible (medical prescription, case of contact, recent positive test, contraindication to the vaccine), the measure clearly aims to push the reluctant towards the bite, while reducing the bill: the cost of the tests goes, indeed , soar to 6.2 billion euros this year, after 2.2 billion in 2020.
The risk, however, is to break the thermometer of the epidemic. François Blanchecotte, president of Union of biologists, expects a “sharp drop of about 80%”, while the number of examinations stabilized around 3.5 million per week at the end of September. “We will no longer be able to correctly follow the evolution of the epidemic because the incidence rate will be affected”, predicts, for his part, the professor of public health Mahmoud Zureik.
On the contrary, the Ministry of Health anticipates “a modest break” and “one-off” on this key indicator, arguing that “comfort tests” are the work of “often asymptomatic people who have very low positivity rates”.
Same serenity displayed about the vaccine obligation, which becomes absolute this Friday for 2.7 million workers.
Already obliged since September 15 to justify at least one injection, employees of hospitals, clinics and retirement homes, as well as liberal caregivers, home helpers, firefighters and ambulance attendants must now certify a “complete scheme”, under penalty of suspension of their employment contract, without remuneration.
According to the latest Public Health France survey on the subject, 86.6% of staff in health establishments were already “fully vaccinated” on September 20. This rate even rose to 88.6% in structures for disabled people and 92.4% in nursing homes.
Certain tensions at the local level
“The vaccination coverage of health professionals is sufficient”, estimates the ministry, which ensures that the measure does not entail “major risk on the continuity of care”, but recognizes that “certain tensions in terms of hospital staff can arise locally ”. As in Mulhouse, where the Sud-Alsace hospital group had to temporarily activate its “white plan” at the end of September, to face a “critical situation” after having suspended 170 agents, or nearly 3% of its workforce.
A proportion four times higher than in Île-de-France, where the ARS recorded 0.7% of suspensions at the beginning of October in the workforce of health and medico-social establishments, that is all the same 1,400 people.
Contacted, the other ARS have all referred to the ministry, which also mentions a rate of 0.7% “based on feedback from establishments”, without advancing an overall number for suspended staff.
Exceptions in the Antilles and Guyana
The situation is, on the other hand, more tense in the West Indies and Guyana, where the vaccination obligation has been delayed by a few weeks, but is encountering opposition, even hostility, from part of the population. In Guadeloupe in particular, the health authorities denounced, last week, “acts of sabotage” within hospitals: blocking of certain accesses, waste oil spilled in offices, etc.