Coronavirus: General Mobilisation at the Top of the State for the Transition to Stage 3 of the Epidemic

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With more coronavirus cases, France prepares for stage 3

Faced with the increase in confirmed coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe convened, this Friday 6th March 2020, six ministers and secretaries of state to the Ministry of Health.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe meets six Ministers and Secretaries of State at the Department of Health on Friday evening March 6th, 2020, following the sharp rise in cases of contamination of the coronavirus in France who now approaching 600.

Prepare for stage 3

As the 100,000 contaminated people mark has been crossed around the world and the spread of the virus is accelerating in France, the government is gathering its troops on the front line, at the Ministry of Health, around Minister Olivier Véran.

Also invited are Elisabeth Borne (Ecological transition), Jean-Michel Blanquer (Education), Christophe Castaner (Interior), Sibeth Ndiaye (spokesperson) and Jean-Baptiste Djebbari (Transport).

The last census of the authorities, Friday in the early afternoon, reported 577 people infected, 154 more and less than 24 hours, and two new deaths, bringing to nine the number of deaths since the end of January.

Friday morning, Emmanuel Macron reiterated his conviction that, “anyway, the epidemic will be there”.

Faced with this acceleration, the authorities are led to prepare stage 3 of the precautionary measures . For Professor Jean-François Delfraissy , a specialist in infectious diseases, the transition from phase 2 to phase 3, that of the epidemic, will take place “between a few days and one or two weeks”.

Coronavirus Covid-19: hotbeds of contamination in France.
Coronavirus Covid-19: hotbeds of contamination in France.

New measures expected

This new phase could imply more disruptive measures for daily life: suspension of public transport, restriction of gatherings or school closings. But they will be taken gradually and on a case-by-case basis.

“You have to be able to hold on. If we take measures that are very restrictive, it is not sustainable over time, “said the head of state, arguing for” proportionate “measures.

On a visit to a retirement home in Paris on Friday morning, he took the opportunity to call to respect “common-sense measures” and to protect the most vulnerable, by limiting for example “to the bare minimum” visits to the elderly, the more vulnerable, “he insisted.

“Most” of those who died were over the age of 80, noted Thursday evening Director-General of Health Jérôme Salomon.

Emmanuel Macron has lunch with residents of a nursing home on March 6, 2020 in Paris.
Emmanuel Macron has lunch with residents of a nursing home on March 6, 2020 in Paris. (© POOL / AFP / Ludovic Marin)

Many sources of contamination

France is one of the main centres of the virus in Europe along with Italy and Germany.

In the Haut-Rhin, cases have increased eightfold in 48 hours, brutally reaching 81 infected people, leading to the closure of a hundred schools and prohibiting all gatherings of more than 50 people in an enclosed environment.

A new source of contamination with coronavirus has also been identified in the Val d’Oise, in the Paris region, with “nine confirmed cases”, including one “in severe condition” in Méry-sur-Oise, announced the prefect of the department.

According to the Minister of Education, “around 150 schools” are now closed in France – not counting the Haut-Rhin -, mainly in Oise and Morbihan, the two main homes, concerning a total of around 45,000 pupils and just over 3000 teachers, he said.

Screening at the Assembly

Affected, the National Assembly reinforced security measures on Friday after an LR deputy from the Haut-Rhin, Jean-Luc Reitzer, was hospitalized in intensive care. An employee of the Palais Bourbon is also infected and four other people are currently being screened, according to a press release from the presidency.

In Paris, the RATP also announced the contamination of a bus driver, the second case after a subway agent, but traffic is not affected.

A decree framing until May 31 the selling prices of hydroalcoholic gels, the use of which is recommended to avoid contamination, was published on Friday in the Official Journal. It limits the price of gels to 3 euros per 100 ml – i.e. 5 euros for 300 ml and 15 euros per litre.

Map showing the number of coronavirus contaminations by regions in France, on March 6 at 8:00 GMT.
Map showing the number of coronavirus contaminations by regions in France, on March 6 at 8:00 GMT. (© AFP / Bruno KALOUAZ)

Municipal elections maintained

For the time being, the postponement of the municipal elections (March 15-22) is not on the agenda but many events have already been cancelled, such as the Paris marathon, scheduled for April 5 with 60,000 registered, postponed until October 18.

In Marseille, authorities and cruise lines are now stepping up their preventive measures with taking temperature before boarding, health questionnaire and reporting of suspected cases to the authorities.

Despite these precautions and like the European and world stock exchanges, that of Paris again showed a drop of 4% on Friday, confirming the fear of long-term economic consequences.

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