‘Too early to cry victory’ – but no new health restrictions expected in France until after the school holidays

'Too early to cry victory' - but no new health restrictions expected in France until after the school holidays
French Prime Minister Jean Castex and Health Minister Olivier Véran after the weekly Defence Council meeting. Photo: AFP
No new restrictions, but a warning that the health situation could change for the worse at any time, was the French government's message following Wednesday's Defence Council meeting held to assess the latest Covid data.
Following the meeting, government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced no changes to the current health rules, but stressed that it was crucial that people continued to respect the rules in place.
 
“The situation is so fragile that anything can tip it over,” Attal told journalists. “It would not be reasonable to relax our efforts or to cry victory.”

 
Schools in some regions of France are currently on holiday and government sources had previously said that new restrictions are not expected before the end of the holiday period on March 8th, unless the health situation deteriorates dramatically.

READ ALSO February holidays in France – what are the rules and what is the advice

“Let's give the French a bit of breathing space,” one source was quoted as telling French media, while Prime Minister Jean Castex is not scheduled to be part of the regular Thursday evening press conference.

At present the situation in France is relatively stable, although several départements are giving cause for concern with high rates of the new variants of the Covid virus.

Overall the number of new Covid cases have seen a slight but sustained fall, from a daily average of 20,000 new cases last week to 18,000 this week.

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Hospital occupancy rates have also dropped slightly, though Attal said “the pressure on hospitals, especially in intensive care units, remains very high.”

Several eastern regions have areas where Covid patients occupy over 70 percent of the total intensive care capacity. In Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur, the region encompassing Nice and the French Riviera, hospitals are at the brink of saturation, with Covid patients filling 97 percent of the total capacity in all of the region's départements.

The emergence of new variants also continues to worry health chiefs, with new variants including the UK, South African and Brazilian variants now accounting for 25 percent of all cases in France.

READ ALSO What is France doing to control the spread of new variants of Covid?

The eastern département of Moselle has reported 300 cases of new variants within a week, which officials say cannot be linked to travel or a single cluster.

Health chiefs will also be watching nervously to see if travel and family visits over the February school holidays leads to a post-holiday spike in cases.

For this reason France is unlikely to see a significant relaxation of the rules currently in place in the coming weeks, although ministers are discussing a possible reopening of some cultural sites such as museums while Culture Minister Roselyn Bachelot has announced a series of 'experimental' concerts with strict health rules in Paris and Marseille in the spring.

 


Member comments

  1. Great news! Congrats! But… just one problem… where’s the vaccine? We’re dying here in the Alpes Maritimes, especially Nice, and no vaccines! And no one telling us why? Our main vaccination center reports: 1 vaccine will be given in the next 28 days! People are angry, scared, and helpless.

  2. Breathing space? What breathing space? We are still in curfew, have been since October and infection rates are not exactly plummeting. Stable situation is not a good thing….it means nothing is improving. Vaccine rollout has been terrible. This attitude from French government is disappointing to say the least. Do they really believe they are on top of the situation?

  3. I would happily accept the Oxford jab at my surgery as the alternative seems to be no jab and take your chance with the virus. What a shambles.

  4. I agree completely with the recent comments. Here in the south of Seine et Marne the same seemingly hopeless situation with the vaccine availability and no attempt to explain or justify it; just`Tant pis” .
    What appalls me the the fact that the Government isn’t being held to account. We dont want a riot in Paris we just want competent public health management.

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