EPIDEMIC: This prerequisite for deconfinement posed by President Emmanuel Macron will most certainly not be reached on December 15th.
- Emmanuel Macron announced on November 24th that deconfinement, or light confinement, would take place on December 15 if France again fell below the threshold of 5,000 new daily Covid-19 contaminations.
- Problem: the current level of contamination – more than 11,000 on Sunday – suggests that this condition will not be met on time, as confirmed on Monday by the Director-General of Health, Jérôme Salomon.
- It remains to be seen whether the Head of State will continue with deconfinement as planned or not.
Deconfinement or not deconfinement? Emmanuel Macron had announced it during his televised address on November 24: “On December 15, if we have reached around 5,000 contaminations per day and around 2,500 to 3,000 people in intensive care, (…) then the confinement can be lifted”. “We will therefore be able to move again, without authorization, including between regions, and spend Christmas with the family (…) Cinemas, theatres, museums will be able to resume their activity” with health protocols, had developed the head of the state.
Except as the days go by, the new daily contaminations do not drop fast enough, and the goal of going below the 5,000 cases per day mark appears increasingly difficult – if not impossible – to achieve. The executive understood this well and was pessimistic on Monday during a meeting with the leaders of the parliamentary groups where, according to participants, Jean Castex and Olivier Véran estimated that “we will not be on target by December 15th”. “What set the tone for the meeting is the” plateau “of Covid cases mentioned by Jean Castex”, reported Jean-Christophe Lagarde (UDI). According to him, the Prime Minister said that “there will be decisions to be made”. Another participant in this meeting within the framework of the Covid-19 Control and Liaison Committee, Bertrand Pancher (Freedoms and Territories) felt the members of the government “worried”. “We are still far from the goal,” admitted for his part, in the early evening, the Director-General of Health, Jérôme Salomon. After having announced it – certainly with conditions -, can the Head of State then go back and not deconfin?
The number of contaminations has “plateau”
At the end of November, Emmanuel Macron had nevertheless played, as we have said, the card of optimism. And less than a week ago, the Institut Pasteur, according to its latest models, though that these objectives would be achieved. “If we look at the rate of decrease in the number of people tested positive by RT-PCR, we expect that we will pass below the 5,000 mark (…) in the first half of December, probably between December 9th and 15th, ”said Simon Cauchemez, one of the study’s authors.
The number of cases per day, after peaking at more than 50,000, or even 60,000 on certain days at the end of October, has certainly decreased steadily, reaching 10,000 to 11,000 cases per day on average at the end of November. But last week, the decline stagnated, remaining around 10,000 per day, according to data from Public Health France, “against 5,000 in the heart of the summer,” said Jérôme Salomon on Monday evening. “Despite all our efforts, we are still facing a high risk of an epidemic rebound “, He warned, recalling the global deterioration of the epidemiological situation. “In recent days, the level of daily contaminations has not dropped and remains particularly high among those over 75 years old”. And the impact of the epidemic on the hospital system “remains major”, he underlined, evoking a “stabilization [which] affects almost uniformly the territory” and an “incidence rate [which] remains greater than 100 or even 150 in certain regions ”.
“It will be very difficult to achieve this goal”
Under these conditions, is it possible to reverse the trend within a week? Is deconfinement on December 15th still possible? “It is difficult to predict the evolution but if the current conditions continue, it will be very difficult to achieve this objective”, admitted Jérôme Salomon. Not wishing to shower the hopes of the French, the number two of the Ministry of Health refused to announce a postponement of deconfinement, explaining that the health authorities were “in a phase of diagnosis. (…) Everything will depend on the development in the coming days. The measures will be taken in due course with all the available elements ”, he added, welcoming, however, the“ common sense of the French, who have already fully understood the importance of barrier measures ”.
For Professor Yves Buisson, president of the Covid-19 cell of the National Academy of Medicine, there is no doubt: “this objective will not be achieved, and we must now strengthen prevention measures. “, He reacted Monday on Franceinfo. The epidemiologist also pointed to the “lack of recent epidemiological data on where and how the virus is transmitted today”, while for several weeks, restaurants have been closed and public transport accessible only to people with a mask. “The modes of transmission have evolved: there remains the family environment, a place that is undoubtedly critical for transmission”.
“Message of caution” for the end of year celebrations and risk of a third wave in January
Beyond the date of December 15, the Director-General of Health launched a “message of caution” concerning the end of year celebrations, which “raise fears that significant intrafamily contaminations take place”. A fear that echoes the strong epidemic rebound in the United States, which is facing a third consecutive wave of family gatherings during the Thanksgiving holiday at the end of November. And which is all the stronger as “the winter season is ideal for the propagation of viruses with respiratory transmission”, insisted Jérôme Salomon.
In terms of figures, “3,411 more cases” have been recorded over the past 24 hours, against more than 11,000 the day before, said Jérôme Salomon. But the data at the start of the week is still bottoming out as fewer tests are done on Sunday. For the next few weeks, Professor Gilbert Deray, head of the department at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital, believes that it is rather a new rebound that the government must prepare for. “At the current rate, the number of daily cases less than 5,000 cases per day as of December 15th for deconfinement will not be reached,” he said on Twitter. If we add the end-of-year celebrations and the upward trend in some regions, the risk is rather a third wave in January ”.
Sur le rythme actuel le nombre de cas quotidiens de < 5000/j au 15/12 pour déconfiner ne sera pas atteint. Si l’on ajoute les fêtes de fin d’année et la tendance à une ⬆️ dans certaines régions le risque est plutôt à une 3ème vague en janvier.
— deray gilbert (@GilbertDeray) December 7, 2020
Jérôme Salomon has also agreed, “it will take time to achieve control of the epidemic”.