“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.
France's Covid case numbers continue to drop, even without a lockdown. If things continue like this, ?? will count 15,600 new cases on average per week in 10 days, which is down from over 18,000 now and 20,000 just one week ago. Beware of big regional differences though. https://t.co/GhlNpIa9RU
— Ingri Bergo (@ingribergo) February 16, 2021
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.
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.