French public health body confirms ‘return of Covid epidemic’

French hospitals are recording an increase in Covid admissions.
French hospitals are recording an increase in Covid admissions. Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP
The French public health body Santé Publique France says that the epidemic has returned with the increase in Covid cases and hospitalisations in France.

After weeks of cases steadily falling, France began to report a slight increase in case numbers at the beginning of October.

Santé Publique France’s weekly report for the week beginning October 18th states that “the resumption of viral circulation has been confirmed in metropolitan France” and hospitals were again beginning to report a rise in admissions from Covid patients.

Overall case numbers remain low with an average of 5,362 new cases per day, but that figure includes a 15 percent increase over the past week and the R rate is now 1.09, just above the rate where cases increase.

READ ALSO A new wave of Covid cases in France is likely, but it won’t be as bad as the UK’s

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The average daily case numbers have been falling since the summer, but in recent weeks have seen a slight rise. Graph:

The alert level of 50 cases per 100,000 people has now been exceeded in 44 of France’s 96 mainland départements.

Incidence rate in départements of France, with départements that have fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people shown in green. To the left of the map are represented France’s overseas départements, while the top left shows an expanded view of Paris and its suburbs. Map:

The SPF report also confirms that hospitals are seeing an increase in admission of Covid patients, with an overall increase of two percent of Covid-related admissions, but a 12 percent increase in admissions to intensive care.

Among those who are admitted to intensive care, 13.8 per million are unvaccinated, 1.3 per million are vaccinated. 

In total 20 percent of intensive care beds are now occupied by Covid patients.

Several European countries are also reporting an increase in Covid cases, with possible causes being the drop in temperatures that have moved socialising indoors combined with the waving of vaccine efficiency as more people reach the six-month mark from their second dose.

France has begun its booster shot programme for those in high-risk groups, but is urging more people to come forward and take up the offer of a vaccine booster.

READ ALSO Who gets a Covid booster shot in France?

MPs have agreed to an extension of France’s health passport past its original end-date of November 15th and government spokesman Gabriel Attal said that the rising case numbers mean that it is unlikely there will be any lifting of the health pass requirement in the immediate future.

On Thursday local authorities in the Loire-Atlantique département reimposed mask rules for outdoor areas in around 70 communes where high infection rates have been reported.

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