Bis repetita. The French are suspended from the arbitrations that the Head of State will make with the ministers most concerned during the Defense Council underway at the Elysee Palace, before presenting them himself in a new televised address, the first since the traditional wishes of December 31, 2020. Announced Wednesday morning by the Elysee Palace, this presidential address heralds large-scale measures, as since the start of the crisis a year ago.
To make up his mind, Emmanuel Macron will take into account the latest epidemic data, without being able to really assess the effect of the hybrid confinement put in place 13 days ago in 16, then 19, departments, including those of Ile-de-France. and Hauts-de-France. The trend remains worrying with an increase in the figures putting the hospital under very strong tension. The number of patients in intensive care has climbed to 5,072, beyond normal hospital capacity and the peak of the second wave in November. The incidence rate has also increased.
Including Covid patients and others, nearly nine out of 10 intensive care beds (6,833 out of 7,665 as of March 26) are currently occupied, according to the Ministry of Health, which specifies that “capacity building continues in all regions”. This degradation has only increased the pressure on the Head of State, urged by many doctors, but also the opposition, to take more effective measures, even strict confinement that Emmanuel Macron refuses.
The image of a sharp head of state alone was reinforced by his refusal of any “mea culpa” for not having re-defined at the end of January, against the advice of scientists. In the absence of rapid measures, doctors and hospital officials have warned of the risk of having to “sort” patients for lack of beds. A scenario “impossible” for the Minister of Health Olivier Véran, who reaffirmed Tuesday: “We will not let hospitals saturate, we will not let doctors have to sort patients.”
“The reflection is in progress”
One of the ways to reduce this pressure is, according to teachers, parents and local elected officials, to close schools in order to limit contamination. A solution that the Head of State and his Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer only want to take as a last resort. The mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo on Wednesday called for the closure of schools in the capital, in view of the health situation “very serious” and some “very great disorganization” in establishments. She indicated on BFMTV and RMC that“about 20,000 students” were not today “not in class either because they are sick or because the classes are closed”, these being 850 in number.
Since Monday, a single case of Covid justifies the closure of a class in the regions most affected by the epidemic. Schools are a “major places of contamination”, estimates Professor Antoine Flahaut, director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva, which recommends their closure within the framework of a “strict” containment. The proposal made by the ex-LR president of the Ile-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse, to bring forward the spring holidays scheduled from April 17, to close schools for a month is closely watched at the Elysee Palace. . “The reflection is in progress”, according to an adviser. Among the parameters of the equation, the acceptability of new restrictions is very important for the executive, in the face of an increasingly reluctant population.
The fifteen departments placed under increased vigilance could be concerned, including Orne, Vaucluse, Isère or Jura, where the incidence rate sometimes exceeds 250 per 100,000. In Overseas Territories, restrictions are tightening in Martinique with the closure of restaurants, cinemas and theaters from Thursday. More than ever, Emmanuel Macron is counting on a massive arrival of vaccines in April to overcome the crisis, following the example of the United Kingdom which is beginning to see the end of the tunnel.
The slowness of the vaccination is one of the main grievances of the opposition vis-à-vis Emmanuel Macron, a “miracle worker” for Olivier Faure (PS), not having “no vision”, according to Marine le Pen (RN) and who is “behaves in a totally irresponsible manner”, according to Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI). Some 8.2 million first doses and 2.8 million seconds have so far been injected in France.