“The health situation in our country has deteriorated,” the Prime Minister said at a press conference on February 25. 31,000 cases of Covid were recorded on February 24, “a figure that we had not reached since November”. The fault in particular with the English variant of the virus, which now represents “nearly (of) half” of the contaminations.

If Jean Castex has not announced any national confinement, he has decreed the placement in “reinforced surveillance” of 20 departments. They cover all of Ile-de-France, the Rhône, Bouches-du-Rhône, Oise, Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Drôme, Moselle, Meurthe-et-Moselle or even the Eure-et-Loir.

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Possibility of local confinements

These territories may be subject to local containment measures from March 6 if the situation continues to deteriorate, after “consultations with elected officials”, added the head of government.

The Prime Minister mentioned an incidence level of around 250 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a share of the English variant “greater than 50%”, hospital pressure “close to the critical threshold” and a “viral circulation which begins to accelerate seriously”.

Confining Paris?

Faced with the epidemic rise, the mayor of Paris already wants to go further and will propose to the government a 3-week confinement in the capital in order to “have the prospect of reopening everything” at its end, affirmed the first deputy Emmanuel Grégoire Thursday on France Info.

“We cannot impose on ourselves to live in a semi-prison for months. We must now take courageous decisions,” said deputy mayor PS Anne Hidalgo.

“The only thing I understood is that the presidential mantra will be applied: ‘we must not say that we have confined the country'”, commented on BFMTV Gilbert Deray, chief of the nephrology department at the Pitié Salpêtrière hospital, for which it would have been necessary “to do as Italy and Great Britain: close for six weeks”.

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Avoid closing schools

“The real major subject is the closure of schools. This is the last end to which we do not wish to reach,” said Jean Castex, on the sidelines of the conference, the Prime Minister. “Without swearing that it will not happen.”

However, he wanted to send notes of hope “allowing to consider the return to normal life”, with a course set “at the end of spring”. According to him, the impact of the vaccination campaign, whose modest figures have sparked criticism, “is starting to be felt in the older population.”

Screening and treatment

Screening has also “improved”. And Olivier Véran announced that France has ordered “tens of thousands of doses of monoclonal antibodies from a higher generation”, expected “in mid-March”. These synthetic antibodies are believed to support the immune system to neutralize the coronavirus.

According to more consolidated data from Public Health France, there were 138,771 people tested positive last week, against 128,662 the previous week.

Hospital pressure

Hospital pressure remains high, with more than 25,000 hospitalized patients (against more than 33,000 and 32,000 at the peaks of the second and first wave), including more than 3,400 in intensive care units, where the most seriously ill patients are treated.

The number of patients in intensive care remains far from the records of autumn (4,900) and spring (7,000), but the progression of vaccination will not be sufficient, without additional restrictions, to avoid a jump in hospitalizations to a level above peak of the first wave, warns the Pasteur Institute in a study published on February 24.

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Vaccination campaign

“In mid-May, all people over 50 will have been offered a first injection” against Covid-19, he promised.

The Minister of Health for his part sent a form of call to order to caregivers reluctant to be vaccinated: “I am telling you, I have a problem as a minister, as a doctor, as a citizen, there is almost an ethical question behind it, so really you have to get vaccinated ”.

On February 5, the vaccination campaign began a new phase with the possibility for town doctors to inject one of the three antidotes authorized in France, that of AstraZeneca, for 50-64 year olds with comorbidities, i.e. 2 millions of people.

2.7 million vaccinated

In nursing homes, the campaign’s priority target, the vaccination coverage rate with two doses has now reached 50% (80% for the first dose) and the number of deaths, recorded twice a week, has dropped significantly, with 121 deaths. Tuesday (compared to 235 a week earlier).

A total of 2.7 million people received at least one dose, of which 1.3 million people were vaccinated with both doses.

Since the start of the epidemic, 85,608 people with Covid-19 have died, in hospital or in nursing homes.