EPIDEMIC: Prime Minister Jean Castex held a press conference on Thursday on the evolution of the coronavirus health situation
“Act fast and hard, where necessary”. After the implementation this week of territorialized containment measures in the agglomeration of Dunkirk and in the Alpes-Maritimes, the government is preparing the ground for other targeted restrictions in areas where the circulation of the coronavirus is highest.
During a press conference organized on Thursday, the Prime Minister, Jean Castex announced that 20 departments were now placed under enhanced surveillance: these are the whole of Ile-de-France, the Rhône, the Bouches-du-Rhône, Oise, Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Drôme, Moselle, Meurthe-et-Moselle or even Eure-et-Loir. “I asked the prefects to initiate consultations with elected officials in order (…) to consider, in all or part of these areas, braking measures similar to those implemented in Nice and Dunkirk” this week, added the Prime Minister, not excluding additional measures “depending on the local situation”.
An update on the consultations at the end of the week
A point will be organized at the end of next week on these consultations, and restrictive measures will be put in place “if the situation were to deteriorate further”, and this from the weekend of March 6th, said the Prime Minister.
Four “unfavourable indicators” were scrutinized to distinguish these departments; “A high level of incidence, around 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a proportion of varying greater than 50%, hospital pressure close to the critical threshold and, finally, viral circulation which is starting to seriously accelerate”, added the head of government.
According to Jean Castex “be reactive at the slightest sign of the epidemic’s surge”, if necessary with “heavy but targeted” measures is the counterpart of the government’s strategy which has sought since the beginning of the year ” to give itself all means to avoid hard national confinement. “This strategy was the right one”, welcomed the Prime Minister, recalling that “the French economy had not collapsed, that the children had been able to continue to go to school and that the vaccination campaign had been able to progress ”. “Containment is a lever which we should not resort to only when we cannot do otherwise,” recalled Jean Castex.
Degradation of the health situation for 5 days
However, the head of the government underlined the recent deterioration of the situation. “Something has been happening for a few days with us as with our European neighbours,” noted Jean Castex. After a period of stable plateau, the number of contaminations reached its highest level since November this Wednesday (30,000), then 25,000 cases in the last 24 hours, mainly due to the rapid progression of the British mutation, which now represents 50% of positive cases in France.
This epidemic growth observed for five days, “is not yet that of October or February of last year”, underlined the Prime Minister to justify the decision of territorialized measures. But it “does not allow us, to date, to consider measures of relaxation”, warned Jean Castex.
The head of government set a course “at the end of spring”, calling by then the French to be “vigilant and united” “We must gain time”, hammered the Minister of Health and solidarity Olivier Véran: “Every day that we win there are vaccinated elderly people who are not at risk of developing a severe form of the disease and dying, it is intensive care beds that are not occupied. Each day that we win brings us closer to a climatic period more favourable to the slowing down of the epidemic, new treatments, but it is also a day less closing of shops and certificate of exit ”.
“First reasons for hope”
In this rather gloomy picture, the Prime Minister however wanted to underline “first reasons for hope” allowing us to consider the return to normal life “in several months”. Especially on the vaccination front : two months after the start of the campaign, “more than a quarter of people over 75 have been vaccinated”, reported the head of government, for whom the figures show that “the effects of the vaccination campaign is starting to make itself felt on our older fellow citizens ”. “By the end of March, two-thirds of people over 75 will be vaccinated,” said the Prime Minister. The next step will be the opening, at the beginning of April, of vaccination to over 65s.
Screening has also “improved”. The saliva-testing campaign should gain momentum to “quickly reach 300,000 children tested per week,” the Prime Minister announced. And the imminent arrival of promising new treatments should make it possible to avoid the most serious forms of the disease: the Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced that France has ordered “tens of thousands of doses of monoclonal antibodies from a higher generation ”, expected“ in mid-March ”. These synthetic antibodies are believed to support the immune system to neutralize the coronavirus.