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HEALTH

MAP: Which parts of France are officially on alert for Covid-19?

The French government has updated its map showing which parts of the country are on the different Covid-19 alert levels.

MAP: Which parts of France are officially on alert for Covid-19?
Photo: AFP

In an attempt to avoid another nationwide lockdown, the French government has come up with an alert system involving different shades of red for areas that have high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

The level assigned to an area is based on both the number of cases and the situation in local hospitals.

Different levels involve different types of restrictions, with the highest level seeing the closure of all bars in the area.

The alert levels are; alert, heightened alert, maximum alert and state of emergency.

For the full details on exactly how the alert system works and the thresholds for the different levels click here.

One important thing to note is that some alerts are for the whole département and some are only for a single metropole – a city and its surrounding suburbs.

So in Bouches-du-Rhone – the département that includes Marseille – people who live in the Aix-Marseille metropole are on maximum alert level while people in the rest of the département are on alert level (pink).

On Sunday October 4th Paris and the petite couronne – the départements of Seine-Saint-Denis, Hauts-de-Seine and Val-de-Marne – also moved to maximum alert level.

READ ALSO: What is a French metropole?

The health minister Olivier Véran's latest briefing was on Thursday October 8th when four more cities were placed on maximum alert, followed by another two on Sunday, October 11th. Here are the latest details and map on the alert levels across France.

Alert – there are 72 départements concerned by this, coloured pink on the map. On October 8th the départements of Nievre and Morbihan were taken off alert level but the départements of Lot-et-Garonne and Mayenne were added.

Heightened alert – There are eight metropoles on this alert level; Bordeaux, Rennes, Rouen, Nice, Toulouse, Montpellier, Dijon and Clermont-Ferrand.

Maximum alert – The metropoles of Aix-Marseille, Paris and surrounding départements in the petite couronne, plus Lille, Lyon, Grenoble and Saint-Etienne, Toulouse and Montpellier.

These designations will be reviewed weekly and the health minister says that the aim is that no areas will be on maximum alert level for more than a fortnight.

Here are the designations as of October 11th.

READ MORE: How does France's Covid-19 alert system work?

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HEALTH

Carte vitale: France to adopt a new ‘biometric’ health card

The French parliament has approved a €20 million project to launch a 'biometric' version of the carte vitale health insurance card.

Carte vitale: France to adopt a new 'biometric' health card

As part of the French government’s package of financial aid for the cost-of-living crisis, €20 million will be set set aside to launch a biometric health card, after an amendment proposed by senators was approved.

Right-wing senators made this measure a “condition” of their support for the financial aid package, according to French left-wing daily Libération, and on Thursday the measure was approved by the Assemblée nationale.

While it sounds quite high tech, the idea is relatively simple, according to centre-right MP Thibault Bazin: the carte vitale would be equipped with a chip that “contains physical characteristics of the insured, such as their fingerprints” which would allow healthcare providers to identify them.

The carte vitale is the card that allows anyone registered in the French health system to be reimbursed for medical costs such as doctor’s appointments, medical procedures and prescriptions. The card is linked to the patient’s bank account so that costs are reimbursed directly into the bank account, usually within a couple of days.

READ ALSO How a carte vitale works and how to get one

According to the centre-right Les Républicains group, the reason for having a ‘biometric’ carte vitale is to fight against welfare fraud.

They say this would have two functions; firstly the biometric data would ensure the card could only be used by the holder, and secondly the chip would allow for instant deactivation if the card was lost of stolen.

Support for the biometric carte vitale has mostly been concentrated with right-wing representatives, however, opponants say that the implementation of the tool would be costly and lengthy.

It would involve replacing at least 65 million cards across France and repurposing them with biometric chips, in addition to taking fingerprints for all people concerned.

Additionally, all healthcare professionals would have to join the new system and be equipped with devices capable of reading fingerprints. 

Left-leaning representatives have also voiced concerns regarding the protection of personal data and whether plans would comply with European regulations for protecting personal data, as the creation of ‘biometric’ carte vitales would inevitably lead to the creation of a centralised biometric database. Additionally, there are concerns regarding whether this sensitive personal information could be exposed to cybercrime, as the health insurance system in France has been targeted by hackers in the past.

Finally, there is concern that the amount of financial loss represented by carte vitale fraud has been overestimated. The true figures are difficult to establish, but fraud related to carte vitale use is only a small part of general welfare fraud, which also covers unemployment benefits and other government subsidy schemes.

The scheme is set to begin in the autumn, but there us no information on how this will be done, and whether the biometric chip will just be added to new cards, or whether existing cards will be replaced with new ones. 

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