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HEALTH

Covid-19 cases increasing during summer holidays, says French health ministry

The French health ministry says that coronavirus transmission is increasing during the summer holiday season, with the total number of COVID-19 deaths now standing at 30,165.

Covid-19 cases increasing during summer holidays, says French health ministry
Photo: AFP

The ministry's DGS health directorate said on Tuesday that it had registered “an increase in the number of emergency doctor calls, emergency room visits, the number of virus clusters and new hospitalisations” for suspected cases across the country.

The directorate said a total of 547 virus clusters had emerged since May 9th, just before France began lifting the strict stay-at-home orders and business closures imposed in March to limit the virus's spread.

But currently only 208 clusters remain active, it said, clarifying a statement from Monday by Health Minister Olivier Veran, who cited 400 to 500 active clusters even though “we are very far from a second wave” of widespread cases.

IN NUMBERS How worried should we be about the increase in Covid-19 cases in France?

Prime Minister Jean Castex is working on a plan to reintroduce lockdown if necessary. Photo: AFP

As people take advantage of the summer holidays, “travel, events and gatherings of families or friends are factors that could foster the epidemic's resurgence,” the DGS said.

Over the past 24 hours, however, only 13 new deaths had been recorded in France, far below the daily tolls at the height of the outbreak.

Currently, 6,482 people are hospitalised for Covid-19 treatment, of which 455 are in intensive care requiring ventilator assistance to breathe – compared with over 7,000 in intensive care while the virus was overwhelming hospitals in March and April.

Nationwide the “R” number indicating the viral transmission rate now stands at 1.2, meaning 10 infected people will infect an additional 12 on average, according to the Santé Publique France health agency.

But in some areas on the French mainland, the rate is much higher, with the southern Mediterranean region including Marseille and Nice now reporting a rate of 1.55.

Brittany in western France stands at 2.6 – meaning 10 infected people could infect on average 26 more people.

READ ALSO French authorities step up testing as Covid-19 cases spike in Brittany

This week the government made face masks mandatory in enclosed public spaces such as shops or public buildings. Full for the list on where masks are now compulsory, click here.

Prime Minister Jean Castex is also working on a plan to reintroduce lockdown if necessary, although he says any subsequent lockdowns will be on a local basis, rather than a repeat of the two-month nationwide lockdown in March and April.

 

Member comments

  1. Very disappointed with ARS_Occ cutting down their excellent web page of Occitanie Covid related statistics to just once a week. Just when we need the best and most frequent information now the tourists are flooding our region.

  2. Ah! Just discovered they (ARS Occitanie) have returned to twice a week stats. Yesterday’s stats have just been published on their website https://www.occitanie.ars.sante.fr/coronavirus-dernier-point-de-situation-en-occitanie-0 Stable statistics so far but I just hope they come under some pressure to return to a daily update. The same applies to the PACA region which is now experiencing clusters. Their last bulletin was yesterday too https://www.paca.ars.sante.fr/coronavirus-en-provence-alpes-cote-dazur-point-de-situation-au-21-juillet-2020

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TRAVEL NEWS

France launches ski safety campaign after rising number of accidents

Injuries and even deaths while skiing in France have seen a sharp rise in recent years - leading the French government to create a new ski safety campaign.

France launches ski safety campaign after rising number of accidents

The early part of the ski season in France was dominated by headlines over the lack of snow in popular mountain resorts – but, now that climatic conditions have started to improve for skiers and there is at least some snow, the winter sports season is in gearing up to hit full swing.

READ ALSO Snow latest: Have France’s ski resorts reopened?

Heading into the winter holiday season – French schools in ‘Zone A’ break up for two weeks on February 4th, followed on February 11th by schools in ‘Zone B’, while schools in Zone C finish for the vacation on February 18th – the government has launched an awareness campaign highlighting skiing good practice and how to avoid accidents.

READ ALSO What can I do if I’ve booked a French skiing holiday and there’s no snow?

The Pratiquer l’hiver campaign has advice, posters and videos highlighting safety on the slopes, in an effort to reduce the number of accidents on France’s mountains – where, every year, between 42,000 and 51,000 people have to be rescued, according to the Système National d’Observation de la Sécurité en Montagne (SNOSM)

The campaign, with information in a number of languages including English, covers:

  • on-piste and off-piste safety advice (signalling, avalanche risks, freestyle areas, snowshoes, ski touring, etc.);
  • Help and instructions for children explained in a fun and educational way (educational games, games of the 7 families to be cut out, safety quizzes, advice sheets for sledding, skiing, prevention clips, etc.);
  • physical preparation (warm up before exercise, prepare your muscles and stretch well, also how to adapt the choice of pistes and the speed to your physical condition);
  • equipment and safety (helmet, goggles, sunscreen, etc.);
  • marking and signalling on the slopes (opening and marking of green, blue, red and black slopes, off-piste).

There are 220 ski resorts in France, the world’s second largest ski area, covering more than 26,500 hectares of land, across 30 departements.

In the 2021/22 ski season, totalling 53.9 million ‘ski days’, according to SNOSM, emergency services made 49,622 interventions in France’s ski areas, and 45,985 victims were treated for injuries.

The results show an increase in the number of interventions by ski safety services – a rise of 13 percent compared to the average of the five years prior to the pandemic – and the number of injured, up 8 percent. 

A few incidents on the slopes made the headlines at the time, including the five-year-old British girl who died after an adult skier crashed into her in the Alpine resort of Flaine, and the French actor Gaspard Ulliel, who died at the age of 37 after an accident while skiing in La Rosière, Savoie.

In total, 12 people died as a result of skiing incidents in France in the 2021/22 ski season. Three died following collisions between skiers, two after hitting an obstacle, and seven as a result of a fall or solo injuries. SNOSM also reported “a significant number of non-traumatic deaths, mostly due to cardiac problems” on France’s ski slopes.

The injuries due to solo falls – which represent 95 percent of all injuries –  on the ski slopes increased 2 percent compared to winter 2018/2019. Collisions between users fell, however (4.8 percent against . 5.6 percent) as did collisions between skiers and other people, and obstacles (0.7 percent compared to 0.85 percent).

The number of fatalities caused by avalanches, however, is at a historic low over the period 2011 to 2021, in part because of a relative lack of snow – leading to a drop in the number of avalanches and fewer people going off-piste, while awareness campaigns are hitting their mark, according to SNOSM.

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