Red or green: France reveals first version of map showing coronavirus situation by département

France on Thursday presented the first version of the map that will split the country into green and red zones, determining the severity of lockdown measures from May 11th.

Red or green: France reveals first version of map showing coronavirus situation by département
Health minister Olivier Véran. Photo: AFP

When he presented his plan for lifting the lockdown on Tuesday, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that each of the country's 96 mainland départements would be given a colour – red or green – that determined how the lockdown would be lifted.

IN DETAIL France's plan for lifting lockdown after May 11th

The final designation for each départment will not be made until May 7th, but Health Minister Olivier Véran presented the first map live to the press on Thursday evening, stressing that the current presentation was just indicative and would be adapted in the weeks to come.

“This map is not changing anything about the current lockdown,” he said.

“There is absolutely no doubt that we still need lockdown now, stay home until May 11th.”

REVEALED The plan for life in France after May 11th

The first criteria is infection levels per département. Graphics: Santé Publique France

The idea is based on looser restrictions for départements where there are fewer cases of coronavirus and where local health services are coping well and tighter restrictions for areas where the virus is still prevalent and hospitals under pressure.

The situation in each département will be updated regularly after May 11th.

Three criteria are used to apply the red or green rating are;
  • The number of new cases being diagnosed
  • The capacity in local intensive care units 
  • Whether local authorities have a comprehensive testing and tracing programme in place

Véran's presentation on Thursday however only showed on two criteria – infections levels by départments and pressure on intensive care units per départment.

The second criteria is the pressure on intensive care services in hospitals

The initial maps showed 35 départements in red, almost all concentrated in the east of the country and the area around Paris.

The maps the health minister showed on Thursday contained orange zones in addition to green and read.

“There will be red and green zones, but we have included orange to show the areas that can shift to both colours before that date,” Véran said.

The combination of the two gives an initial rating to each départements, with orange showing those where the situation is uncertain

The goal was to give local authorities an idea of where they stood and what measures needed to be taken for them to turn into a green zone on May 11th.

It was still largely unclear what exactly the end of lockdown would mean for those départements coloured red in terms of the stricter restrictions which may still apply. 

Health Minister Olivier Veran said: “It will be possible if necessary to close schools, to close a certain number of shops and outdoor spaces.”

During his presentation to parliament Prime Minister Philippe stressed that the goal was to tailor measures to each area.

Philippe gave two concrete examples: secondary schools (colleges) and parks, gardens and open spaces would only reopen in green départements.

“Areas will be green or red, but everywhere there will be an intense discussion to adapt measures to local needs,” Philippe said.

“Its the partnership between local officials and actors on the ground that will let us steer clearly to manage the circulation of the virus,” he said.

France’s official coronavirus death toll on Thursday increased by 289 – 192 in hospitals and 98 deaths were registered in the country's nursing homes for elderly (Ehpad).

The country’s intensive care patients decreased by 188, said French Director General of Health, Jérôme Salomon.

In total, France counts 24,376 coronavirus fatalities since the beginning of the epidemic. Of these 9,132 occurred in the country's Ehpad.


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Sick patients in France lacking GP to be contacted before summer, minister says

The French minister of health promised that chronically ill patients who aren't registered with a doctor will be contacted by the summer.

Sick patients in France lacking GP to be contacted before summer, minister says

François Braun, France’s Health Minister, said on Monday that all chronically ill patients without a general practitioner will be contacted before the month of June with “concrete solutions”.

There is a general shortage of medécins généraliste (GPs or family doctors) in France, with some areas classed as ‘medical deserts’ where people find it almost impossible to register with a doctor.

The health minister said that people without access to primary care doctors are “deprived of a regular follow-up” and that this is “no longer acceptable” for those with chronic illnesses. These groups will be contacted via Assurance Maladie before the summer, he added. 

Braun’s statements came a few weeks after French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech to healthcare workers outlining the ways he is seeking to overhaul the health system in the country.

READ MORE: How Macron intends to revive France’s ailing health system in 6 months

In his speech, the president promised that the “600,000 patients in France who suffer from a chronic disease would be offered a primary care doctor – or at least a ‘reference team’ – by the end of the year.”

Macron also discussed plans establish a “Conseil national de la refondation (CNR – or National Council for Reconstruction)” to build a “roadmap” for solutions in the fight against medical deserts.

Approximately six million French people are estimated to lack a primary care doctor, and 600,000 of those people suffer from long-term diseases, according to Franceinfo.

READ MORE: What to do if you live in one of France’s ‘medical deserts’

This issue is aggravated by the fact that almost a third of French people live in medical deserts – or geographical zones where healthcare providers and general practitioners are severely lacking compared to the rest of the country. Generally, this refers to healthcare in the community such as GPs or family doctors, dentists or community nurses, rather than hospitals.

Medical desertification mainly affects rural areas with an ageing population – though they’re also developing in some towns and cities (including some Paris suburbs) as retiring doctors are not replaced and younger medics establish themselves in more dynamic zones, both in terms of economy and activities.