Covid-19: State of Health Emergency Extended until February 16th

General News
State of health emergency extended until February 16th because of coronavirus Covid-19

The deputies voted on Saturday evening for the extension of the state of health emergency, as wished by the government. But the debates were lively.

While two out of three French people are now subject to a night curfew in an attempt to halt the exponential progression of Covid-19, the National Assembly adopted on Saturday 24th October 2020 at first reading the extension of the state of emergency health until February 16th, 2021.

The bill which aims to extend this exceptional regime, re-triggered last Saturday, was voted by 71 votes against 35 and should be adopted definitively in early November, after a passage Wednesday in the Senate.

Restrictions for a “period which will be long and difficult”

It authorizes the executive to introduce restrictions to face a “period which will be long and difficult”, warned the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, while a new record of 45,422 new Covid-19 contaminations was reached Saturday in 24 hours, the milestone of one million confirmed cases having been crossed the day before .

A decree published on the night of Friday to Saturday had already extended the curfew imposed on Ile-de-France and large metropolises to affect a total of 54 departments in addition to Polynesia, or 46 million French people deprived of travel between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Respect the curfew “at all costs”

Faced with the second wave of the epidemic sweeping over the country, “the best way” to “relieve the hospital is ultimately not to fall ill”, explained Prime Minister Jean Castex after ” a visit to the North Hospital of Marseille.

“It depends on each and every one of us” he insisted, calling on the population to respect “at all costs” the curfew and “even better, all barrier gestures”, including in the sphere private.

The day before, President Emmanuel Macron judged that it was too early to provide for “local or wider reconfigurations” , preferring to wait “for the middle of next week (to have) a clearer vision of the impact of the measures” taken.

But we will have to live with the virus “at best until the summer of 2021” , he warned.

Prime Minister Jean Castex speaks with the owner of the restaurant "Chez Madie les galinettes" in the Old Port of Marseille, October 24, 2020
Prime Minister Jean Castex speaks with the owner of the restaurant “Chez Madie les galinettes” in the Old Port of Marseille, October 24, 2020 (© AFP / NICOLAS TUCAT)

Pressure in the hospital

The test positivity rate continues to climb, reaching 16% on Saturday against 15.1% the day before, and only 4.5% in early September. The toll is also growing every day, with 138 new deaths, bringing the total to at least 34,645 deaths.

And the pressure is increasing in the hospital, where the number of seriously ill Covid-19 patients is now close to 2,500 in intensive care units.

“The difference compared to the first wave is that we have all the chronic pathologies of the winter period to take care of,” Agnès Ricard-Hibon, emergency physician, stressed on CNews.

Mayors call for military intervention

“We are trying to anticipate a little more, a little better, we have more material resources but not enough nursing staff,” added Nadège Houbgbo, intensive care nurse at Lariboisière, on BFMTV.

Equipping additional sheaves, deprogramming operations, cancelling vacations and calling for volunteers… The hospital has sounded the general alarm.

But in the Gier valley (Loire), the situation is already so tense that mayors have asked the state for medical assistance from the army to make up for the lack of caregivers, as in Mulhouse last spring.

At the current rate, “all the patients who will require it will no longer be able to be admitted to intensive care in the Gier Hospital within 15 days”, worries in particular Vincent Bony, mayor of Rive-de-Gier.

The deserted streets of the Montmartre district, in Paris, October 23, 2020
The deserted streets of the Montmartre district, in Paris, October 23, 2020 (© AFP / Valery HACHE)

Hard for some sectors

If the population is escaping confinement, for the time being, the curfew is still difficult to digest for some.

“It will affect us a lot”, worries the boss of a bar-restaurant in Strasbourg, Franck Meunier, who manages several establishments and expects a drop in turnover between “30 and 40%”.

In Lyon, the private corks of customers in the evening revive the tradition of “mâchon” , a well-watered pork meal to be enjoyed in the morning. “Even if we are smiling, the situation is complicated,” sighs the boss of the “Poêlon d’Or” Yann Lalle.

Call for a public debate 

In a column published in Le Monde, the defender of rights Claire Hédon wonders if the curfew is the measure “the most adequate, considering the extent of the violation of freedoms that it implies” and calls for an ” in-depth public debate ”.

For his part, the geneticist Axel Kahn estimated on Franceinfo that the reopening of universities at the start of the school year was a “gross error” given the “considerable” number of “contaminations of students”.

Meanwhile, the virus continues to be a spoiler: the Ligue 1 Lens-Nantes match was postponed on Saturday after the discovery of 11 positive cases in the Lensois workforce on the eve of the meeting.

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