How quickly should health constraints be eased? Should the vaccination be opened more quickly to those under 55 without conditions? Pending announcements from Emmanuel Macron on Friday, questions are piling up for the executive, faced with a slowdown that is dragging on the Covid-19 epidemic.
The Head of State will present on Friday “the prospects” of “gradual exit” from the anti-Covid restrictions, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Wednesday, at the end of the health defense council and the council of ministers.
It will not be a televised address, as has been the case on several occasions since the start of the crisis, but an interview published Friday morning by the regional daily press, we then learned from from several regional media.
Mr. Macron, who spoke Tuesday with a dozen mayors, spoke on Monday of a plan in several phases to reopen terraces, cultural places, sports halls and restaurants between mid-May and the end of June.
The bill to exit the state of health emergency, adopted on Wednesday by the government, will still allow it until the end of October to restrict movement or close shops in the event of a worsening of the health situation. Its consideration will begin next week in Parliament.
Will the terraces reopen before or after the Ascension Bridge (May 13-16)? Will the curfew time be postponed? Which museums will be able to welcome the public and with what gauge, after more than six months of closure? Will the reopening be different according to the territories?
Many questions remain unanswered and the expectation of an intervention from the Head of State has revived the speculation machine, at a time when other countries, such as Great Britain or Italy, have begun to lift more or less. less progressive health restrictions.
– “Slow descent” –
Even if the number of hospitalized Covid-19 patients fell back below the 30,000 mark on Wednesday, for the first time since the beginning of April (29,911), the indicators remain degraded.
There are about 27,000 positive cases per day on average over the past seven days (31,539 Wednesday), and 5,879 Covid patients were in intensive care on Wednesday.
The Covid has killed 324 more in the last 24 hours, for a total of 103,947 deaths since the start of the epidemic a year ago.
“We see a downward trend which is slower than in November” and whose impact “is still reflected only very timidly in the evolution of the number of patients in intensive care”, summarized Mr. Castex.
“The data tell us that we passed a peak, more or less at the beginning of April, and we are downhill, but this descent is quite slow”, confirmed on RTL the epidemiologist and research director at Inserm, Vittoria Colizza.
“With an R (virus reproduction rate) at 0.9” as is currently the case, “it takes us a month to halve, more or less, the number of cases” but with the reopening of schools since Monday, we must expect, according to her, “a decrease in the slowdown” of the epidemic, which “could bring us to a plateau”.
– “Unbridle” –
In this context, the pace of vaccination remains a crucial issue for the government, faced with increasingly pressing requests to anticipate the opening, currently set for May 15, of injections to those aged 50-55 without co-morbid conditions.
Pressure revived by the observation that appointments remain free in certain large vaccination centers, such as at the Stade de France.
“I believe that the question of age must be unbridled, because it is still a scandal that doses are not used when there are many people who wish to be vaccinated”, insisted the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, on franceinfo.
It is “premature” at this stage, replied Mr. Castex at the exit of the Council of Ministers, without however closing the door “to a widening of the public” if it is confirmed that a “certain number of meetings “available” were “not honored”.
“Free slots, there are not that many”, wanted to relativize on Europe 1 the president of the Council of orientation of the vaccine strategy, Alain Fischer, who insisted on the need to “go and seek” unvaccinated people in eligible categories.
Currently, vaccination is open to around 25 million people, including residents of nursing homes, those over 55, the most vulnerable 50-54 and certain professions or vulnerable people.
According to the latest official figures, 14.9 million people have received at least one injection, of which more than 6 million have been fully vaccinated with their two doses (i.e. 9% of the total population and 11.5% of the adult population) .