France, with two weeks of “soft” confinement, is managing to flatten the curve of the second wave of COVID-19. At least this is what Health Minister Olivier Veran believes, who, in an interview for the regional press, said that the decrease in new cases and the decrease in the incidence rate suggest that “we have passed an epidemic peak.”
“We are regaining control of the epidemic, which is good news,” he added.
“But we have not defeated the virus yet. (…) Clearly, it is too early to claim victory and relax our efforts,” however, Olivier Véran warned.
While the number of positive cases has continued to rise, approaching two million, the number of admissions to intensive care units or intensive care units, with 270 admissions in 24 hours, is at its lowest level since three weeks ago, according to the daily figures published on Sunday by the agency Public health France.
Véran stressed that “the level of diagnoses continues to be high, between 20,000 and 30,000 (cases) per day”. Far from the goal of 5,000 cases per day that Emmanuel Macron had set when he announced the lockdown on October 28.
This slowdown appears to be beginning to have an effect on hospital admissions. On Sunday, Santé publique France reported 17,390 new hospitalizations in the last seven days, a downward trend since November 9.
At the same time, 2,761 Covid-19 patients were admitted to intensive care units in the last seven days, while this indicator was still above 3,000 at the beginning of last week.
Intensive Care Units still full
However, with more than 33,000 people currently hospitalized, including 4,896 in intensive care units, or almost the entire initial capacity of the country, the burden remains very high.
“It seems that there is an inflection of the curve of the new cases but the hospitals are still full, the resuscitations are still full, so we have not yet come out of the problem”, summarized in Europe 1 Philippe Juvin, head of emergencies at the European Hospital Georges Pompidou of Paris and mayor LR de La Garennes-Colombes.
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“The uncertainties (…) are still too numerous to be accurately projected,” said Olivier Véran, while promising to lighten the confinement if the trajectory is maintained, “without (lifting) it completely.” In an interview with the daily Le Monde this weekend, Jean Castex had already closed the door “in the short term” to “festive family gatherings in public spaces”.
The government is also facing increasingly pressing demands to reopen all businesses, beyond so-called “essential” assets, as soon as possible to save them from bankruptcy.
After several demonstrations this weekend, in Nice and Marseille in particular, the leader of the conservative Republican party Valérie Pécresse called for a reopening on November 27, the day of “Black Friday”, so that this gigantic promotional operation not only benefits to online trading.
At the moment, the government is evaluating the possibility of reopening on December 1, but cafes and restaurants would not be among the establishments authorized to reopen.