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COVID-19

Coronavirus: France reports lowest daily number of hospital deaths in a week

France on Sunday reported 357 coronavirus deaths in hospital in 24 hours, the lowest daily increase in a week, bringing the country's total death toll to 8,078.

Coronavirus: France reports lowest daily number of hospital deaths in a week
A boy rides his bicycle past the Eiffel Tower in Paris on April 5, 2020, on the twentieth day of a lockdown in France aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). AFP

The tally included 5,889 patients who died in hospital, and 2,189 people in old age homes and other medical facilities, a government statement said.

The daily rise in hospital deaths reported on Sunday was lower than the 441 deaths in French hospitals on reported on Saturday and the record 588 reported on Friday.

The number of coronavirus deaths that have occurred since the start of the epidemic in France's elderly care homes, known as Ehpads, rose slightly after additional reports from Ehpad homes across the country. 

The figure stood at 2,189 on Sunday a slight rise on the figure of 2,028 given on Saturday. Not all establishments have reported their figures on residents who have died from coronavirus to the French government, so the number is likely to rise.

Nearly 7,000 patients in intensive care

On Sunday April 5th there were 28,891 patients being treated for coronavirus in French hospitals, a rise of 748 compared to the previous day.

Some 6,948 of these patients were in a serious condition in intensive care.

The one positive note was that the daily rise in the number if people in intensive care in France continued to slow, as has been the trend in recent days.

There were 140 extra patients in intensive care across the country on Sunday, compared to 176 more patients reported on Saturday, 263 on Friday and 382 on Thursday.

France's Director General of Health said in a statement that the figure for those in intensive care was still rising but at a decreasing rate.

“This is the major indicator that allows us to monitor the pressure on hospitals and mobilise all the resources to deal with it, ” read the statement.

In total over 16,000 have left hospital to return home after recovering from the virus.

'The end of confinement is not yet on the cards'

France has been in lockdown since March 17 in a bid to slow the spread of the epidemic, with only essential trips allowed that must be justified with a signed piece of paper.

There have been 70,478 confirmed coronavirus cases in France, but this is not the total as testing for the virus is not universal.

As the country basked in warm sunshine on Sunday and the Easter holiday period started, officials urged people to continue heeding the lockdown rules.

Police checks continued as people around the country were observed flouting restrictions to jog in groups, gather in green spaces and allow children to play together as rural areas received holidaymakers contrary to the government's confinement orders.

“The end of confinement is not yet on the cards, a deadline has not been set,” interior ministry number two Laurent Nunez stressed.

“I remind you of the rule… one goes out only when it is strictly necessary.”

“It's the holidays, the weather is nice, don't give in to the temptation,” urged Valerie Pecresse, president of the larger Paris Ile-de-France region, which is hardest hit by the pandemic.

Forty-one severely ill patients were evacuated Sunday from Ile-de-France's overflowing hospitals and brought to Brittany in the north in two specially-equipped high-speed trains.

In total, more than 550 patients have so far been evacuated from Ile-de-France and the east of France which was the first pandemic hotspot.

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COVID-19

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

With a sharp rise in reported cases in recent weeks, France appears to be in the middle of a new wave of Covid infections - so what measures are the government taking to control it?

Return of the health pass? How France plans to tackle new wave of Covid cases

Recorded case numbers in France are now over 50,000 a week, and have been since the beginning of June – this is a long way short of the 350,000 weekly cases recorded in January but still the highest since May and representing a steady an increase of 57 percent on the previous week.

Hospital admissions are also on the rise – standing at 707 admissions on Friday, June 24th compared to 400 daily admissions just two weeks earlier.

So what is the French government doing about it?

Since March, almost all Covid-related restrictions have been lifted in France – the health pass is no longer required for everyday activities such as visiting a bar or going to the gym and face masks are now merely advised in all indoor locations. Only hospitals and other health establishments such as nursing homes still have mandatory rules on face masks and health passes.

For international travel, fully vaccinated arrivals from most countries – including the UK, US and the whole of the EU – need only to show proof of vaccination, while unvaccinated travellers need to show proof of a recent negative Covid test – full details HERE.

Health pass

A proposed bill from the health ministry that was leaked to French media talks about re-imposing some form of pass sanitaire (health pass) to get numbers under control.

Some caveats to add here is that the document is only a proposal at this stage and the government has explicitly rules out – for the moment – reintroducing the vaccine pass. The health pass can be used to show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, so it is less restrictive for the unvaccinated.

The document suggests re-introducing a health pass for travel – both to and from France – not for everyday activities like going to a café.

Testing and contact tracing

The bill also proposes extending the software involved in contact tracing and the Covid testing programme until March 2023, although this is described as a ‘precaution’.

Testing remains available on a walk-in basis at most French pharmacies and by appointment at health centres and medical labs. Tests are free for fully-vaccinated residents of France who have a carte vitale. Those are only visiting France, who are not registered in the French health system or who are not vaccinated have to pay – prices are capped at €22 for an antigen test and €54 for a PCR test.

READ ALSO How tourists in France can get a Covid test

Masks

The Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, said she is “asking the French to wear masks on public transport once again” during an interview with RTL on Monday, June 27th. She also recommended wearing a mask in all other enclosed crowded areas, as a “civic gesture.” However, she did not refer to the request as a government mandated obligation.

At present masks are not required, but are recommended, especially on busy services where it is impossible to practice social distancing.

Epidemiologist Pascal Crépey said: “In crowded trains, the risk of being in the presence of infected people is high. It would be a good idea for the population to wear the mask, to protect especially the most fragile and avoid massive infection rates.”

Local measures

French local authorities also have the power to impose certain types of restrictions if their area has a particularly high rate of infections.

At present, none have done so, but Nice mayor Christian Estrosi has spoken in favour of possibly bringing back the vaccine pass over the summer.

Second booster shots

A second booster shot of the Covid vaccine is now available to all over 60s and anyone who has a long-term medical condition or who is otherwise at risk from Covid.

It is recommended that the government increase public messaging advising those in high risk groups to get the second booster shot. The medical regular HAS has advised combining second booster shots with the seasonal flu vaccine campaign in September and October.

France is not, at present, considering widening the campaign to the entire popular, but the EU’s vaccine commissioner Thierry Breton says that if necessary, there would be enough doses to cover the whole population.

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