Despite the drop in the number of tests, incidence rates are increasing in many departments, increasing fears of an epidemic starting in France.
For several weeks, health authorities have feared the scene of a new Covid-19 outbreak in France as winter approaches. Drop in temperatures, humidity, lack of ventilation, relaxation of barrier gestures, displacement of populations linked to the All Saints festivities … there are many factors favorable to this renewed circulation of the virus. And the phenomenon is beginning to be felt in the figures: the country’s global incidence rate has thus exceeded the average of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which constitutes the alert threshold.
In total, 31 departments have an incidence rate above this threshold, according to data from the French Public Health week for the week of October 15-21. It is in the western departments of the country where the increase is most marked. But it is in Haute-Loire (89.5) and Bouches-du-Rhône (87.7) that the incidence rate is currently the highest.
In the southwest, we observe that Aveyron (84.4), Lot-et-Garonne (52.1) and Pyrénées-Atlantiques (81.1) are the departments where the virus circulates the most.
But these figures need to be put into perspective today for several reasons. First, the end of free trials from October 15, unsurprisingly, has caused the number of Covid tests performed each week to cut by more than half: on September 1, there were 660,000, compared to the 300,000 on October 21. Therefore, it is difficult to compare the figures, as the ability to perceive the epidemic has changed. Therefore, it is to be expected that not many infected people have been detected.
“The benefit of the booster dose”
Another essential element allows to put this epidemic resurgence in perspective, in a more positive way. Serious cases admitted to hospitals are still limited: 1,023 people on October 25 against 2,294 on September 1. The number of people admitted to intensive care with a diagnosis of Covid-19 has remained stable, around 50 people per day, for about a month.
As Health Minister Olivier Vréan reminded us, we are far from the pollution and hospitalization figures for the fall of 2020. But the health authorities are on guard. If the vaccination campaign made it possible to avoid a repetition of the scenario, the success of the current reinforcement campaign will be decisive to pass the winter without incident.
This is what Professor Arnaud Fontanet points out at the JDD: “The key to success lies in the ability of the vaccine to protect against severe forms of the disease (…). We now have 6 to 8 months of follow-up to estimate the vaccine efficacy against severe forms and remains at 90%. It decreases a little in the elderly and people with comorbidities, hence the interest of the winter booster dose. “
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