MAP: How France’s Covid-19 second wave exploded in just one month

These maps reveal the extent and speed of the Covid-19 second wave in France in recent weeks.

MAP: How France's Covid-19 second wave exploded in just one month
Dark blue means high level of Covid-19 spread. Photo: Santé Publique France screen grab

On Sunday October 25th France recorded a new grim record of over 52,000 positive Covid-19 infections in just one day.

It was confirmation, if it was even needed, that the infection rate in France had rocketed in recent weeks and forced the government to consider new restrictions and perhaps even a return to confinement.

The explosion of the second wave has taken the government and health chiefs by surprise. The speed at which the epidemic has made a resurgence can be seen in detailed maps.

Since the final week of September, Santé Publique France has published an interactive map that shows the Covid-19 infection rate in each of France's 35,014 municipalities.
The incidence or infection rate corresponds to the number of confirmed new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the preceding seven days.
Late September, between the 24th and 30th that month, the situation in France looked like this:

Photo: Screen grab Santé Publique France

Back then, most areas were coloured white, which meant they had registered incidents rates below 10, which is low enough for them not to be considered at high risk for Covid-19 spread. 

Towns and cities coloured light blue had an incidence rate between 10 and 20, which is not seen as alarming either, but a warning sign that the virus is spreading with increased pace.

The slightly darker blue tone refers to incident rates between 20 and 50, while mid blue means between 50 and 150, and the near-darkest blue tone between 150 and 250.

Areas coloured dark blue on the map had an incidence rate above 250, which is one of the thresholds the government has set for an area to tip into maximum alert level, which leads to new restrictions and a 9pm evening curfew.

One week later, between October 1st and October 7th, the dark blue areas had expanded.

Photo: Screen grab Santé Publique France

One week after that, between October 8th and October 14th, this was the situation:

Photo: Screen grab Santé Publique France

Between October 15th and October 21st a lot more of the country had turned dark blue.

Photo: Screen grab Santé Publique France

The newest version of the map is based on data between October 22nd and October 26th, and has few white spots left.

France on October 26th counted 17,761 Covid-19 hospital patients, a number that has soared over the same time period as the one shown in the map, and is growing with increasingly rapid pace.

In the last week of October hospitals in France were admitting over 2,000 new Covid-19 patients every day, up from 1,133 on October 14th, 789 on October 7th, 650 on September 30th.

The graphic below shows the development of the total number of hospital patients in France since late March.

These numbers are especially worrying because hospital admissions and intensive care admissions do not increase simultaneously.

“When hospital numbers increase, we know that this leads to an increase in intensive care admissions within 15 days,” virologist Catherine Hill told French media.

Intensive care rates best indicate the gravity of the Covid-19 situation in the country, because they are the last ones to rise before deaths. France also has a limited number of intensive care beds (5,800 in total, up from 5,100 in March).

READ ALSO: Can France's intensive care units cope with the Covid-19 second wave?

France on October 26th counted 2,761 intensive care patients, however the number is growing with increasingly rapid pace.

Hospitals admitted 135 new patients into intensive care wards on September 30th, 143 on October 7th, 193 on October 14th, 284 on October 21st and 357 on October 26th.

Hill is one of several academics who has said he government must take drastic measures urgently to reverse the trend before it's too late.

“It is extremely urgent to confine the country. Failing to do so would guarantee that we run straight into the wall,” she said.




Member comments

  1. this was not in “just one month”. If you observe the numbers from august, you see it was already exponential back then. Now we are at a later stage of exponential, which just hurts faster.

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French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.