Ten days after the establishment of a curfew in France, Emmanuel Macron will chair a new health defense council on Wednesday to decide on new restrictive measures in the face of the Covid-19 epidemic. If the possibility of a third confinement is considered, the executive is still considering what form it could take.
An inevitable third confinement? Faced with an epidemic of Covid-19 still active and faced with the new situation of variants, the executive must decide this week whether it is still tightening the screw to fight against the coronavirus.
A health defense council is scheduled for Wednesday January 27 around the Head of State, ten days after the establishment of a general curfew at 6 p.m., the effects of which are still difficult to assess.
“Decisions will be made this week […], it is not a question of lowering the guard “, assured Monday the Prime Minister, Jean Castex.
In Emmanuel Macron’s entourage, we insist on the fact that “nothing has been done yet” and that it is a question of “finding the right balance”.
“We also want to be consistent vis-à-vis the French who have been making efforts for months”, adds the same source to AFP, while bars, restaurants, cultural places, private sports halls and universities are closed since the end of October, that teleworking has become widespread in the country and that the curfew has partly spoiled the end-of-year celebrations.
No speech by the president this week has been confirmed, but according to a source close to the executive, the head of state is considering a device still different from the first two confinements, more flexible especially for young people.
According to the same source, Emmanuel Macron, eager to avoid a new confinement as much as possible, could give himself several additional days before deciding, the time to fully measure the effect of the curfew.
Slowing down of vaccinations
Despite the economic consequences of health restrictions, Jean-François Delfraissy, the president of the Scientific Council who guides the government’s choices, calls for not procrastinating in the face of the threat of variants of the virus, which “completely change the game”, and while vaccination is still limited, despite the milestone of one million injections reached on Saturday.
On this front, the Institut Pasteur announced Monday that it was abandoning the development of its main Covid-19 vaccine project, which does not change France’s plans for the first half of the year, as the country has five other pharmaceutical groups for the delivery of 77 million doses by the month of June.
It remains to be seen, however, what consequences will have the reductions in the volume of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine, announced on Friday by the British group even before the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), expected at the end of January. France expects 5 million doses of this vaccine in February.
“It will probably be necessary to move towards containment,” Jean-François Delfraissy said on BFMTV on Sunday, qualifying this measure as “a very barbaric tool”, but effective in curbing the epidemic.
“We are asking to find the right balance, that we leave all businesses open, that we do not fall back into this somewhat absurd debate on essential, not essential, that we had in November,” said for his part on RMC the president of Medef Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux.
“We are in an apparently relatively stable situation, [mais] if we continue without doing anything more, we will find ourselves in an extremely difficult situation, like other countries [européens], from mid-March “, warned Jean-François Delfraissy.
Variants on the rise in the region
He warned that the 202012/01 VOC variant, which triggered an outbreak in the UK, where more than 1,000 Covid-19 patients died every day last week, was present “rather at levels of 7, 8 or 9% in certain French regions “, while a first survey measured it at 1.4% at the national level on January 7 and 8.
Public Health France is to launch a new study this week to assess the circulation of the more contagious English and South African variants.
The health agency noted a relative stability in the circulation of the virus with 128,551 positive cases the week of January 11, but the trend seems to be on the rise, with 30,576 people testing positive on January 18 (27,638 the previous Monday ).
While it was between 8,000 and 9,000 in December, the number of new hospitalizations over seven days passed the 11,000 mark on Sunday (to 11,155).
In total, 26,888 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in the country on Monday (2,000 more than at the start of the month), including 3,031 in intensive care, a figure that is constantly increasing. Last week, more than 2,766 people affected by Covid-19 died, for a total of 73,494 deaths in hospitals or nursing homes since the start of the epidemic.
Despite these figures, the President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, believes in the Figaro that “everything must be tried with intermediate measures [pour éviter] total re-containment [qui] would have very strong human consequences, especially among young people “.