Jean-François Delfraissy, president of the Scientific Council convened by the French government to advise on coronavirus-related measures, has laid out a strategy for the months ahead.
The Scientific Council's role is advisory, but throughout the crisis they have been closely consulted by the government on health measures to contain and control the spread of the virus, including the strict nationwide lockdown brought in on March 17th.
Delfraissy, 72, a doctor and immunology specialist, gave an interview to French newspaper Le Parisien in which he laid out the four possible scenarios that the government faces over the rest of 2020. He was speaking as on Thursday the Council published its seventh consultation paper.
The Scientific Council has advised the government throughout the epidemic. Photo: AFP
The four scenarios are; the virus goes away or stays at very low levels, a second critical cluster appears like the one in Mulhouse at the start of the epidemic, a slow deterioration of the general situation in autumn with more hospitalisations and finally the worst case scenario – the return to a critical situation of infections and hospital pressure.
But even in the worst scenario, the country would not return to a generalised nationwide lockdown, he said.
He told Le Parisien: “The Scientific Council, what we are saying is: whatever happens, we will not be able to redo a generalised lockdown in France.
“The first time, it was essential, we had no choice, but the price we have to pay is too high.
“The population would certainly not accept it, the economic consequences would be major and, even from a health point of view, this is not desirable – do not forget that, apart from Covid, there were all the other patients who had delays in diagnosis during this period.”
He added, however, that some areas could see the return of lockdown measures if they show a 'cluster' of cases, saying: ” I am firmly convinced that if it starts up again, it will start up again in the Paris region.”
He cautioned that the virus has not gone away, and that people need to remain cautious and follow health precautions, but he said it is for the present under control, thanks to the testing and tracing strategy now in place.