France can ‘turn the page’ on Covid crisis by November, says health minister

France can expect to 'turn the page' on the Covid crisis by the end of the year, according to Health Minister Olivier Véran.

France can 'turn the page' on Covid crisis by November, says health minister
French health minister Olivier Véran. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

“We must remain cautious, but not live in fear,” he said in an interview on radio station LCI, as he outlined the government’s path out of the health crisis on the day that France’s cafe terraces reopened – under strict health conditions – for the first time in six months.

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: French people (and politicians) head back to café terraces

In that, he echoed President Emmanuel Macron’s cautious optimism. “If we manage to organise collectively, to continue to vaccinate, to maintain a collective discipline of citizens, there is no reason that we cannot continue to move forward,” Macron said, urging the French to “remain cautious”, even as Covid cases across the country fall steadily.

But Véran added: “I think that in November or December, if there were no new variants … because we will have sufficiently vaccinated we can consider that the epidemic is behind us.

“If things go well, then there we can turn the page on Covid-19.”

The number of Covid-19 hospitalisations is at its lowest level since October 2020, with 22,058 patients being treated across France on Tuesday, May 18th. Of those,  4,015 patients were in intensive care, according to Santé publique France. 

“We will remain very vigilant this summer,” Véran said. “We must be sure that vaccination protects us in the long term. We are all, on the planet, in the same boat. 

“I am optimistic about the conditions of this reopening. We will see next autumn and winter, if there are further waves or new variants.”

READ ALSO: France’s Fête de la musique ‘will go ahead, with masks and a curfew’

He warned, too, that moving out of lockdown to a more normal life cannot happen overnight.

“We must go gradually. We must limit the risks, be careful with our social contacts, continue to wear masks when required, wash our hands.”

READ ALSO: IN DETAIL: France’s 4-step reopening from Covid restrictions

Véran had previously said he “sincerely hopes” wearing masks outside would no longer be necessary this summer – and repeated his upbeat message, but added a note of short-term caution. 

“The local authorities have the right to impose, or relax, rules on wearing masks outside,” he said.

“I hope that we will be able to offer French people the option of no longer being obliged to wear a mask. But be careful: this does not mean that there will be no need for masks everywhere outside, in a crowd for example.”

And he welcomed the take-up of vaccines that have prompted the fall in cases of Covid-19.

“A few months ago, at best 40 percent of French people wanted to be vaccinated,” he said. 

“We had counted on 60 percent of the French population by age group. We wanted to go up to 70 percent, we’re going to get 80 percent. 

“The French don’t believe without having seen, they have doubts – that’s our collective strength. But they do what they need to do to be protected.”

Member comments

  1. Fully vaccinated people should be allowed without mask inside and outside! But no the baby sitting continues. And than to realise that they are still vaccinating at snail speed compaired to other countries. The old and weak are vaccinated, so that’s it. Nooooo just spread more fear about variants, so what? that’s what virussen do, they can not make unlimited new variants. Masks outside were always stupid unless extreme crowded places, so now we have to be happy they take away a silly rule in the first place. I have the feeling people get fed up, I see more and more noses above masks!

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Health insurance: France to roll out smartphone version of carte vitale

France has begun a trial in eight areas of a smartphone version of the 'carte vitale' - the card required to access the French public health system - with the eventual aim of rolling out the app across the country. Here's how it will work.

Health insurance: France to roll out smartphone version of carte vitale

What is happening?

France is making changes to the carte vitale – the crucial card that allows residents of France to access the public health system. If you don’t have the card – here’s how to get it.

The new project involves replacing the physical card with a virtual one that is stored on your smartphone via an app.

The French government is beginning a pilot project in eight départements with the intention of expanding the system to cover the whole country in 2023.

The trial areas are; Bas-Rhin, Loire-Atlantique, Puy-de-Dôme, Saône-et-Loire, Sarthe, Seine-Maritime, Rhône and Alpes-Maritimes and the trials are voluntary for people who want to sign up. 

How does it work?

At present, the app is only available to those living in the trial areas mentioned above, and it can only be used by people who are already registered in the French system and have a carte vitale. It is not an alternative to the current registration process. 

If you have a carte vitale, however, you can transfer it onto your phone, which saves you having to remember to carry your card around.

You first download the app MonCV and then begin the sign-up process. In order to do this you will need your current card and social security number and will also have to go through a series of security steps including uploading a scan of your passport or ID card and then making a ‘short film’ of your face in order to verify your identity. 

Once registered, you can then use it at the doctor, pharmacist, vaccine centre or any other situation in which you previously used your carte vitale. You will be able to either show a QR code to scan, or scan your phone using NFC technology (similar to Metro and train smartphone tickets, which works even if your phone is turned off or out of battery).

Can you still use a card version?

Yes. If you don’t own a smartphone or are just not a fan of apps you can continue to use the physical card with no changes.

What does this change for healthcare access?

It doesn’t change anything in terms of your access to healthcare or paying for it, but some extra functions are set to be added to the app once the scheme is rolled out nationwide.

The first one is to link up your carte vitale with your mutuelle (complementary insurance) if you have it, so you don’t need to show extra proof from your insurance company in order to get full reimbursement.

The second is to add a ‘trusted person’ to your carte vitale, allowing them to use your card to, for example, pick up a prescription for you or to allow grandparents to take children to medical appointments (normally children are included on their parents’ card). 

Is this replacing the biometric carte vitale? 

You might remember talk earlier this year of a ‘biometric’ carte vitale, in which people would have to register biometric details such as their fingerprints in order to keep using their carte vitale.

This seems to have now been kicked into the long grass – it was a parliamentary amendment to a bill proposed by the centre-right Les Républicains party and was intended to combat prescription fraud.

Experts within the sector say that the costs and inconvenience of making everyone register their biometric details and get a new card far outweigh the costs of prescription fraud and the idea seems to have been put on the back burner for now.