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HEALTH

Paris region ‘beginning of a rebound of Covid-19 epidemic’ say health authorities

Health authorities in the Paris region have sounded the alarm about a worrying rise in Covid-19 cases, which they say cannot be fully explained by the greatly expanded testing in the area.

Paris region 'beginning of a rebound of Covid-19 epidemic' say health authorities
Rise cannot be fully explained by big increase in testing, say regional health authorities. Photo: AFP

The number of confirmed new cases of Covid-19 in the greater Paris Île-de-France region is now higher than it was on May 11th, when the country's strict nationwide lockdown began to ease.

Since then, testing in the capital has ramped up hugely, with many more walk-in centres created and millions of Parisians taking advantage of them.

But the ARS regional health authority says the rise cannot be explained purely by the increase in testing.

“We are in the early stages of a rebound in the epidemic,” warned Nicolas Péju, deputy director general of the Île-de-France ARS.

“The massive and real increase in the number of tests is not enough to explain the evolution of the situation,” he added.

“For example, over the last two weeks, there has been a 60 percent increase in PCR screening in the region, but at the same time, a 140 percent increase in the number of cases.”

In a trend that mirrors the national situation, the majority of the new cases are among young people and hospitals in the region are not yet seeing a big increase in Covid-19 admissions.

INTERVIEW What's really behind the rising coronavirus rates in France?

However health chiefs worry that although the younger people may not be so badly affected by the virus, they could begin to pass it on to older or more vulnerable people, which would lead to a spike in hospital admissions and an increase in death rates.

The latest data from Île-de-France shows that Paris itself is the worst hit, with cases now running at 46 per 100,000 inhabitants – just below the 'alert' level of 50 per 100,000 and well above the 10 per 100,000 rate at which health authorities begin extra monitoring of an area.

In the Hauts-de-Seine and Seine-Saint-Denis, the rate is 31 per 100,000 while Val-de-Marne is just below 30.

 

Testing in Paris has been hugely increased, with many new walk-in testing centres, including at the two Paris plages sites, which Parisians have rushed to take advantage of before heading off on holiday to other parts of the country.

Nationally, around half of the new cases diagnosed are people with either no symptoms or very mild symptoms, and many of these have been identified through walk-in testing or the country's track and trace system. It's a very different situation from May, when prescriptions were required for a test and only people with symptoms were being tested.

From Monday, masks have become compulsory on the streets in crowded areas in the Paris region.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED How do Paris' new mask rules work?

“The objective is to reverse the trend as quickly as possible and to reinforce prevention so that the rebound does not turn into the beginning of a second wave,” added Péju.

The French government has ruled out another nationwide lockdown, but is working on a plan for local lockdowns if the situation deteriorates in a certain area. The Defence Council is meeting this week to consider possible new measures.

Member comments

  1. It seems, to me, like we must isolate ourselves from danger – by age group.

    This means avoiding young people (I’m old) and other careless idiots.

    There is no specific measurement, that I know of, for stupidity.

    My experience of the world, however, is: NEVER, EVER, UNDERESTIMATE IT.

  2. Governments cannot stop this virus.

    Only social responsibility and awareness of others can arrest it.

    Clearly, too many young people have neither of these qualities or attributes.

    We are, all of us, responsible for our own actions and thus ourselves.

    Personally, I try NOT to harm others if, or when, I’m being stupid.

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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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