France says coronavirus situation is ‘deteriorating very fast’ as new restrictions planned

French health chief says the coronavirus situation was 'deteriorating very fast' as the government mulled new measures in the fight to stem the spread of the epidemic. Health chiefs have urged the public to "stay at home". (Paywall free)

France says coronavirus situation is 'deteriorating very fast' as new restrictions planned
French President Emmanuel Macron flanked by health chief Jérôme Salomon. Photo: AFP


The coronavirus epidemic in France is “very worrying” and the situation “deteriorating very fast”, the head of the country's health service Jérôme Salomon said on Monday.

“The number of cases double every three days,” Salomon said on France Inter, adding that the number of seriously ill patients and those needing intensive care “runs into hundreds”.

Salomon said every French person had to ask themselves the following,

“How can I, as of today, divide by three or four the number of people I come in contact with,” the health chief said.

“Stay at home, it's as simple as that.”

The message came as the government considered ramping up measures to limit the spread of the epidemic, which was putting a heavy load on the country's already overstretched hospitals.

French media have widely reported that the government would announce confinement measures and curfews for the whole country to come into force on Monday or Tuesday.

On Monday morning government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye described the reports of a curfew as “fake news”.

But she added: “We are examining all the useful measures to get people to change their behaviour.”

Ndiaye added that those measures would be discussed and based on the current outlook of the epidemic.

Santé Publique France reported 127 coronavirus linked deaths on Sunday evening and over 5,400 confirmed cases of the virus. 

All French health authorities have however pushed the same message over the past days: the country must slow down the spread of the coronavirus in order to avoid a situation similar to that of its neighbour Italy, where hospitals have been overwhelmed with the number of serious cases over the past weeks.

You can find the latest information on the coronavirus situation in France here.

French media reported this weekend that the government was considering to impose similar mandatory quarantine rules in France as those seen in Italy and Spain.

“We have observed that the first measures we have taken have not been correctly applied,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said this weekend. “The best way to slow the virus is social distancing.”

Philippe said that the advice of most scientists was that the government should step up restrictive measures in a bid to slow down the epidemic.

France already ratcheted up its coronavirus regulations this weekend, ordering the closing of cafes, restaurants, schools and universities – all “non-essential commercial activity” – and limiting long-distance travel “to the strictly necessary.”

All nurseries, schools and universities were closed on Monday and everyone who can have been told to do télétravail (work from home).

The French government will meet with the both the scientific council working specifically to deal with the crisis and the opposition this week to consult on the next steps to stem the spread of the crisis.

READ MORE: What's closed (and what's open) in France following the new coronavirus restrictions

Such steps could include enforcing mandatory curfews in some parts of the country for a temporary period of time.

In Italy, authorities have asked everyone to stay inside unless they have an urgent reason to go out, such as work, a medical appointment or to buy food.

All citizens must fill out a standardised form stating their reason for being outside and submit it to authorities if asked. 

The punishment for submitting an untrue story in Italy spans from a fine of several hundred euros to criminal charges and up to three months in prison.

You can read more about Italy's quarantine rules on our Italian site (paywall free).



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Reader Question: Can I get a third Covid booster shot in France?

As France launches its autumn vaccine campaign, almost half of those eligible for the second booster jab in France have already received it. This has left some wondering whether they could qualify for a third booster, using the new dual-strain vaccines.

Reader Question: Can I get a third Covid booster shot in France?

Question: I’m in my 70s and I had my second booster back in the summer but now I see that the new dual-strain vaccines are available – should I be getting an extra booster with the new type of vaccine?

French health authorities launched the autumn booster campaign on October 3rd includes newly authorised dual-strain vaccines – such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.1, the Moderna vaccine adapted to BA.1, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine adapted to BA.4/5 – which are designed to combat the Omicron variant.

It will be followed by the seasonal flu vaccination campaign in mid October.

READ MORE: When, where and how to get flu shots and Covid boosters this autumn in France

In France, about 6.3 million people have received a second booster dose, “or 41 percent of the eligible population,” said the Directorate General of Health (DGS) to Ouest France.

Currently only those in high risk groups are eligible for a second booster shot, including pregnant women, the elderly those with medical conditions or carers – find the full list here.

As almost half of the eligible population have already received a fourth vaccine, many are wondering whether they will be eligible for a fifth (or third booster) in order to access the new dual-strain vaccine.  

According to Virginie, a representative from HAS – France’s health authority – the organisation “no longer thinks in terms of doses for high-risk people and immunocompromised patients.”

Specifically, the HAS recommends that a new injection be given – and if possible one of the dual-strain vaccines – “regardless of the number of injections received up to now”.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: Who qualifies for a second Covid vaccine booster in France?

However, French health authorities specified that the additional booster should “respect the minimum recommended time between two doses.”

“This depends based on your profile – for people aged 80 and over, residents of nursing homes or long-term care units (USLD) and those who are immunocompromised, the wait-time is three months between jabs. For the others, the delay is set at six months.”

For those who have already been infected by Covid-19, the HAS recommends that if you are eligible for a second (or third booster) that the additional dose “is still recommended, with a minimum delay of three months after infection.”