As France eased its nationwide lockdown on December 15th, its national incidence rate – the number of Covid cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the previous seven days – stood at 116.
This was down from over 500 in the early days of the second nationwide lockdown, on November 2nd, when the nationwide incidence rate peaked at 500 per 100,000.
It also compares favourably with France's neighbours, data from December 10th showed 150 cases per 100,000 in Germany, 250 per 100,000 in Italy and 300 per 100,000 in Switzerland.
But since the beginning of the pandemic there have been significant regional differences in the level of Covid-19 spread across France.
The incidence rate is one of the main indicators French health authorities use to monitor the Covid-19 epidemic in the country.
The map below shows how it varied across the French mainland according to the most recent data, published by France's public health agency Santé Publique France for the week of December 5th until December 11th.
Source: Santé Publique France
What do the colours on the map mean?
Communes coloured the lighter shades of blue on the map reported a low incidence rate between 10 and 50 per 100,000 inhabitants – a colour that until recently did not exist on the map, but which now has replaced much of the darker blue zones.
The Alpes-Maritimes département bordering Italy reported a relatively high infection rate in some communes – 1,000 in Clans, Rimplass, Saint-Sauveur-sur-Tinée and Fontan, and between 500 and 1,000 in three others.
On the western side of France, some areas in Normandy too reported high levels of Covid-19 spread. Some communes in the area between Rennes and Orléans had incidence rates that approached 1,000 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Other crucial indicators to monitor the spread of the virus are hospital patient numbers and intensive care patient numbers.
On December 14th, French hospitals counted 25,481 Covid-19 patients, a drop down from over 30,000 at the beginning of the second lockdown
However there were big regional differences in the level of pressure on hospitals. The map below shows how many patients were currently hospitalised in different French regions on December 14th.
Photo: French government
The same was the case for intensive care wards, which counted 2,906 total patients in France on December 14th. This number has decreased too in recent weeks and has now dropped below the set goal of less than 3,000 intensive care patients in total nationwide.
The map below shows how many patients were admitted to hospital intensive care wards in different French regions per December 14th.
Photo: French government