Local lockdowns: What’s happening in Nice and could other parts of France follow suit?

Local lockdowns: What's happening in Nice and could other parts of France follow suit?
Health minister Olivier Véran, right, in Nice with city mayor Christian Estrosi. Photo: AFP
The southern French city of Nice has imposed a weekend lockdown due to a worryingly high Covid-19 infection rate and severe pressure on local hospitals. Is this the beginning of a new stage of localised lockdowns in France?

What's happening in Nice?

The city and the surrounding Alpes-Maritime département are experiencing very high levels of Covid cases – 700 cases per 100,000 of the population which is more than three times the national average.

Local hospitals are so overwhelmed that patients, including intensive care patients, have had to be transferred out of the region.

Senior French hospitals official Remi Salomon described the epidemic on TV channel BFM as “out of control”.

At the weekend Nice Mayor Cristian Estrosi described the situation in local hospitals as “catastrophic”. He said intensive care units were close to saturation and that patients were having to be transferred elsewhere.


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So what will be done?

Health minister Olivier Véran visited the city on Saturday to assess the situation and consult with local officials.

On Monday, the Préfet of the Alpes-Maritime département announced a string of extra measures, including a weekend lockdown for Nice and the surrounding area.

What do local officials want?

Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, has been calling for a complete lockdown at weekends and also wants more checks on people travelling to the area because Nice is a favoured holiday spot. Not all local leaders agree that a lockdown is necessary.

Could similar measures be extended elsewhere?

France tried localised restrictions over the summer and early autumn, but since October almost all measures have been nationwide – apart from the early introduction of the 6pm curfew in some parts of eastern France.

The extra restrictions in Nice could be the beginning of a shift in policy with other hotspots also facing extra restrictions.

Epidemiology professor Mahmoud Zureik told Le Parisien: “A weekend-only lockdown would be a first in mainland France.

“To put it plainly, if it works on the Côte d'Azur, an application in areas of high tension could be envisaged: Moselle, the Hauts-de-France and even the greater Paris Île-de-France region.”

The eastern département of Moselle has recorded a worryingly high level of the South African and Brazilian variants, although no new restrictions were imposed on the département after Véran visited it last week. The minister did offer more vaccine doses however.

“Nice could be a laboratory for the rest of the country, we would become a field of experimentation for others,” said Professor Charles-Hugo Marquette, the head of pneumology at the Nice's CHU hospital.
“Whatever the decision, the hospital is going to be in trouble.  Already, operations have been postponed, patients transferred – the rate of positive tests is enormous, around 22 percent. Mathematically, this implies other seriously ill patients to come.”


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  1. This new measure only speaks to the urgency of administering vaccinations more rapidly and efficiently throughout France! The delays are going to result in more sickness and deaths unfortunately!Locals here in Montpellier in the highest-risk group cannot even gain rdv’s for their jabs. The French State has failed it’s citizens IMO. I’ve been told Feb/March for next group (moi). Doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Have already emailed Macron, Castex, Veran and local major. Castex Chief of Staff replied (only one so far) without answering my pointed questions: 1)Why is it taking SO long? 2)Why teachers aren’t a priority like in US? 3)When can group 2 citizens expect their jab? Response ONLY political fluff what’s already in the all the Press. Yet Sarkozy at 65 got his jab already! Look at US and UK Israel vac rates! It’s a travesty…WRITE YOUR GOVT LEADERS! We are being lied to and cheated.

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