Give (curfew) a chance to work.“This is what the government chose to do before considering a third confinement, unveiled the Minister of Health Olivier Véran at the 20 hours of TF1 January 21.

But do we already know if this curfew is working well? In its epidemiological update of January 21, Public health France draws up a first assessment of this measure, by comparing three groups. The first is made up of the 15 departments where the curfew came into effect on January 2, 2021. The second of the 10 departments that followed between January 10 and 12. And the third of the 61 departments that were finally subjected to a general curfew on January 16.

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“Less marked” increase in incidence rate

The curfew has therefore lasted for about twenty days in the first group. And Public Health France observes an increase “less marked“the incidence rate1 the first week of January than in the other two groups.
The same goes for the second week of January, where the incidence even decreases in these 15 departments, unlike the other two groups.

But the screening rate follows the same trend. So there might be fewer cases in this group just because fewer people got tested.

Last indicator cited by Public Health France to assess the effectiveness of the curfew: the positivity rate of the tests. Unfortunately, it follows the same trend in all three groups and therefore does not allow a clear conclusion to be drawn.

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Other factors than the curfew?

What to think of these first data? “In group 1, the improvement in the epidemiological situation may be partly linked to the implementation of the early curfew“summarizes Public Health France. But this result must be tempered. Because”the evolution of the situation was already more favorable in this group than in the other two in week 01, whereas it was too early for the effect of the anticipated curfew to be observed“.

This improvement could therefore also be explained by more cautious behavior than elsewhere during the holidays. Indeed, in these departments, “viral circulation was particularly active and had been the subject of local communication campaigns“.

Three factors were therefore able to play together: the precautions taken by the population, school holidays and the curfew.

Wait until next week

To confirm or refute this hypothesis, we must wait for the data on the evolution of the indicators in the three groups, “in particular in the departments placed under early curfew on January 10 and 12“, notes Public Health France.

Conclusion? We must wait until next week to find out whether the curfew from 6 p.m. is enough to slow the epidemic or whether new restrictive measures will have to be taken. In particular to curb the spread of the British variant, which is more transmissible than the old version of SARS-CoV-2.

1 The incidence rate corresponds to the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants and over a given period.