All over the land, “it appears that we could be at the peak [de l’épidémie], or close to being, ”said government spokesman Gabriel Attal after the Defense Councils and Ministers on April 21.

The deconfinement calendar drawn up at the end of March by President Emmanuel Macron remains “the working basis” according to G. Attal. The head of state should himself announce the modalities of reopening by the first week of May, a source close to the executive told AFP.

The executive thus plans to possibly ease the curfew and reopen non-food businesses and places of culture from mid-May, with reduced gauges. Territorial adaptations are being studied, with a floor level of 35% in places of cultivation, which would vary depending on the circulation of the virus.

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Beginning of decline of the epidemic

The choice of the executive is based on two forecasts: the decrease in the number of contaminations and the objective of 20 million people vaccinated with at least one dose in mid-May. But the decline is still slow and remains to be confirmed, remind the Ministry of Health and several experts.

“At this stage the epidemic is receding half as quickly as in November”, and “hospital pressure remains extremely strong”, underlined Mr. Attal, pointing to significant territorial disparities. “We can clearly see a notable drop in a large number of regions,” confirmed epidemiologist Antoine Flahaut on RTL.

The reproduction rate (R0) of the virus, a key indicator corresponding to the number of people infected for a single patient, has “fallen below 0.9”, notes this doctor, predicting that the decline will increase in the coming days .

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Indicators that remain worrying

Nevertheless, some 43,000 new contaminations were listed on Tuesday, according to Public Health France. “The descent is not yet fast enough”, warns Olivier Véran, speaking of a “fragile” situation.

Professor Karine Lacombe, head of the infectious diseases department at Saint-Antoine Hospital in Paris, judged on franceinfo that to speak of “decrease in the epidemic” is “a little too enthusiastic”, preferring to mention “a slowdown in the epidemic. ‘increase in cases’ and not ‘a decrease in the number of people hospitalized’.

Hospitals under pressure

The tension on the health system is not weakening: France has 31,086 hospitalized patients, including almost 6,000 in intensive care. The level is lower than the peak of the first wave in April 2020 (7,000), but higher than that of the second.

“It would be too premature to open the country today,” warns Professor Flahaut, in favor of three additional weeks of semi-confinement.

The government will hold a press conference on April 22 in which it will address various topics such as borders, schools and the vaccination campaign.