The day after the children return to primary school, France still sees the start of relief from other health constraints in May, but the executive remains cautious in the face of a still fragile slowdown in the Covid-19 epidemic.
“Go slowly to prevent it from starting again”: it is with these words that Emmanuel Macron outlined on Monday, in a school in Melun, the tracks of a gradual reopening of the country.
After primary schools, subject to the strict rule of a class closure from the first positive case, the gradual lifting of restrictions should continue next week with the reopening of middle and high schools, with gauges, and the end of prohibition of movement between regions or limits of 10 or 30 km.
The rest is still unclear and takes shape in stages until the end of June, in particular for the restaurants closed for six months, according to “the (health) results that we will have obtained”, warned the Head of State, which should draw up a more precise timetable before May 5.
The only certainty is that the executive has repeatedly reiterated the objective that tables are once again set up on the terraces and that certain cultural places and part of the shops can welcome the public and customers in mid-May, as is the case. already the case in several other European countries.
At a time when the days are getting longer, Emmanuel Macron also mentioned the hypothesis of pushing back the time of the curfew, without specifying when.
– Drop or plateau? –
In the immediate future, the time is not for the decline in hospital indicators. On Monday, 400 new deaths of Covid-19 patients were recorded in hospitals, where the threshold of 6,000 Covid patients in intensive care was exceeded, a level not reached since April 2020, during the first wave of the epidemic.
Behind the crossing of this bar, the level of sheaves has remained stable for two weeks, and the projections of the modeling team of the Institut Pasteur anticipate “a drop in hospital admissions, even if some individual models rather predict a tray”.
Last week, Public Health France recorded about 29,700 new cases per day, against nearly 33,000 the previous seven days, but this decline is still fragile in the eyes of several epidemiologists.
“We cannot expect (…) with the reopening of schools, the reopening of terraces and cultural places, to have an epidemic which will decline, we will remain at this very high level of hospital tension”, screened on BFM-TV Mircea Sofonea, lecturer in epidemiology and evolution of infectious diseases at the University of Montpellier.
“We have reached 6,000 Covid patients in critical care, we will not fall back, we will remain at this high level for several weeks,” he insisted, recalling that beyond Covid patients, “he there are non-Covid patients whose operations are deprogrammed “in saturated hospitals.
– Increase in variants in Ile-de-France –
The issue of the circulation of variants, to which the Minister of Health Olivier Véran devotes a trip Tuesday to the Regional Health Agency of Ile-de-France, still worries. Thus, the National Union of Airline Pilots (SNPL) of Air France called on the company’s pilots not vaccinated against Covid-19 to refuse flights to India, Brazil, South Africa, Argentina and Chile.
The share of Brazilian and South African variants, feared for their greater contagiousness and suspected of being more resistant to vaccines, remains very low in France (4.2% of suspicion of these variants in new cases), but their share has suddenly increased in Ile-de-France, from 6 to 9% in a few days.
Regarding vaccination, France should exceed the symbolic bar of 20 million injections (first and second doses combined) on Tuesday, but the coverage rate remains insufficient to consider an exit from the health crisis: Monday, 27% of the adult population had received a first dose of vaccine, and 10.8% of this population was vaccinated with two doses.