Coronavirus: Confinement Expected to Last More than Two Weeks

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Confinement in France due to Coronavirus could last longer than 2 weeks

The director-general of the public health agency France believes that the extension of confinement “will most likely be necessary.”

The historic confinement to which France is subjected in an attempt to stem the epidemic of coronavirus should “very probably” last beyond two weeks, while the Parliament resumed on Thursday its work for a vote to place the country in “state of health emergency” .

In a reduced format and standing at a good distance from each other, around twenty deputies and a handful of ministers opened a question and answer session to the government, which was rather peculiar.

Faced with this “unprecedented crisis”, in a country almost stopped, the government authorized Wednesday the establishment of a “state of health emergency” , accompanied by emergency measures to support the economy. It will be declared by decree after the adoption of the bill by deputies and senators, in principle on Friday.

Empty road near Rennes due to Coronavirus
Road near Rennes, March 19, 2020. (© AFP / Damien Meyer)

Possible improvement in “2 to 4 weeks”

France saw its third day of confinement ordered by the government for “at least 15 days” in order to limit the risk of saturation of emergency services, while the number of patients and in particular of serious cases continued to increase.

But for the director-general of the public health agency France, Geneviève Chêne, the extension of confinement “will most likely be necessary” and it will be necessary to wait “between 2 and 4 weeks” to observe a change in the dynamics of the epidemic of coronavirus.

If “it is too early today to be able to say anything about the dynamics of the epidemic in France”, if we rely on the example of China, the inversion of the curve would occur “around mid-May / end of May, “she said on Franceinfo.

Hospitals are now treating 3,626 patients, 931 of whom are in intensive care. Among these most serious cases, half are aged “less than 60 years”, insisted the Director-General of Health, Jérôme Salomon by announcing the previous evening a total of 264 deaths (89 additional in 24 hours).

Residents on balconies to encourage caregivers, on the evening of March 18, 2020 in Paris
Residents on balconies to encourage caregivers, on the evening of March 18, 2020 in Paris. (© AFP / Martin BUREAU)

“We must not be reassured too quickly”

“I am relatively in favour of exceptional measures being taken, it will not last 3 years, it will last a few weeks but we must hold on,” added RFI Stéphane Gaudry, professor of intensive medicine and resuscitation at the ‘Avicenne hospital in Bobigny (93), where the president visited the day before.

“We must not be reassured too quickly: you should know that the coronavirus induces an immunity which is relatively partial with possibilities of recurrence several months later and therefore new waves of Covid-19”, he warned.

In hospitals, in addition to the difficult situation in the Grand Est, the picture is also tightening in Ile-de-France where the doctor believes that “we should expect to experience roughly the same thing in 10 to 15 days”.

“Logistical difficulties”

The first air transfer of six patients took place from Alsace to military hospitals in Toulon and Marseille. The deployment of a military hospital is also planned in Alsace.

The government will also set up an air system, in conjunction with Air France, to allow French people stranded abroad due to the pandemic to return home, three ministers announced on Wednesday evening.

One hundred thousand members of the security forces were deployed, imposing a fixed fine of 135 euros in the event of “violation of the prohibitions on moving outside one’s home”. In 24 hours, 4,095 fines were drawn up, according to the Minister of the Interior.

Police check the certificates of two teenagers on Place de la Comédie on March 18, 2020 in Montpellier, during the confinement instituted in France to fight against the new coronavirus.
Police check the certificates of two teenagers on Place de la Comédie on March 18, 2020 in Montpellier, during the confinement instituted in France to fight against the new coronavirus. (© AFP / Sylvain THOMAS)

The government has recognized “logistical difficulties” in the supply of masks, allocated “as a priority to carers”, who are nonetheless alarmed by their destitution . Minister Florence Parly announced that 5 million Army surgical masks have been made available to the Ministry of Health.

A total of 25 million masks are being delivered to pharmacies and healthcare facilities.

Masks and protection that claim other professions, forced to continue working outside their home despite the crisis like the police or delivery men.

“Unacceptable pressures” from some companies

After calling the day before the employees of essential sectors to continue working, the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire ruled Thursday “unacceptable” the pressures exerted by the giant of the internet distribution Amazon on its employees, who are not paid if they exercise their right of withdrawal for health reasons.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said Thursday that the police “are not at risk” against the Covid-19 while recognizing “dysfunctions”, while unions are calling for the right of withdrawal to obtain masks protection.

Medef’s deputy president, Patrick Martin, warned of a possible halt in economic activity, including in essential sectors, due to a “brutal change in attitude” among employees, ready to exercise their right to withdrawal after the introduction of sanitary measures.

Cashiers in particular are alarmed : photos circulated on social networks showing crates of food stores protected by simple plastic films stretched at the level of the faces

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