More than 99,000 dead, nearly 6,000 COVID-19 patients treated in intensive care units: France is still suffering from the third wave of coronavirus and the indicators show no improvement in the hospital, leaving open the questions on a relaxation of constraints in mid-May.
• Read also: All the developments of the pandemic
More than 5,900 patients with COVID-19 were treated in critical care units on Monday, a figure that has not been as high since mid-April 2020, but which is expected to increase further in the days to come, according to projections updated from the Institut Pasteur.
All pathologies combined, the resuscitation services were increased on Friday to a capacity of more than 8,200 beds in France (against a little more than 5,000 before the crisis), of which 90% occupied, indicate the latest figures from the Ministry of Health. But to increase their capacity, hospitals are forced to deprogram part of less urgent care.
“We are not at the top” of the third wave, warned Gilles Pialoux, the head of the infectious and tropical diseases department at Tenon hospital in Paris (AP-HP), on BFM-TV. With measures that he described as “slow braking”, “we must accept that we will probably experience a descending plateau, slowly descending, with a saturation of hospitals and resuscitation which will empty as slowly as possible”, a he added.
The number of new cases stabilized at a very high level last week, with between 41,000 and 60,000 positive tests daily during the four days following the long Easter weekend.
At a time when Europe records a total of more than a million deaths from Covid-19, France has exceeded the 99,000 people who have died since the start of the epidemic on Monday and is expected to cross the symbolic 100,000 dead mark this week, overwhelmingly older people, more fragile.
Slightly slowed down by vaccination in nursing homes, but driven by the more contagious British variant, the rate of deaths remained high in 2021, with more than 11,000 deaths in January, more than 10,000 in February and more than 9,000 in March.
If there is still a very small minority in France, the Brazilian variant P1, more contagious and more deadly, worries experts, and the opposition has called for the closure of air links with Brazil, where the health situation has worsened considerably.
The Minister Delegate for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari justified the maintenance of “a few lines” with a “reinforced” health protocol. “Before the pandemic, we had around 50,000 people arriving at Roissy per week. Today it is 50 per day, ”he assured LCI.
The rhythm of the vaccination does not allow you to relax your efforts. More than one in five adults (21%) received a first dose of the vaccine, and just over 7% were vaccinated with two doses. “For a population to be protected”, it is “80 to 85% of vaccinated that it needs”, recalls in Le Parisien the virologist Bruno Lina, member of the Scientific Council.
This context leaves uncertainty over the conditions under which the country will relax health constraints in mid-May, the deadline set by Emmanuel Macron for a gradual reopening and under control of the terraces of cafes and restaurants and certain cultural places. A later schedule than that hoped for in early March, when the executive had given hope for a return to normal life in mid-April.
A first pivotal stage is expected on April 26, with the return to class for primary school children, after three weeks of school closures.
Prime Minister Jean Castex will also defend Tuesday and Wednesday before Parliament the maintenance in June of regional elections, “perhaps by postponing” the second round from 20 to 27 June and therefore the first round from 13 to 20, explained Tuesday the President of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand on RTL.
After more than five months of closure of cultural places and restaurants, a show trade union (Prodiss) demanded in an open letter to Emmanuel Macron that a “concert-test” protocol be finally validated. This file has become a sea serpent in France and the first proposed calendars, February and March, have all been pushed back.
“It is possible to resume a lot of cultural activities without making the population take health risks”, insisted for his part Senator Bernard Jomier, presenting the conclusions of a fact-finding mission on the subject.
The senators propose a tailor-made reopening on a case-by-case basis, with prefectural authorization to guarantee control of the health protocol, rather than proceeding sector by sector and with uniform gauges.