French News Digest: First Stage of Deconfinement Begins; Vaccine plan details
According to the latest report from Santé Public France, France saw 406 deaths in hospitals in the 24 hours to yesterday, Monday, November 30. The number of new cases and hospitalisations is declining, with 4,005 new cases confirmed in the same 24-hour period.
There have now been 52,731 deaths in total, with at least 2,222,488 confirmed cases in France. There are currently 28,229 people hospitalised with Covid and 3,751 patients in intensive care. The test positivity rate is 11.1%.
The number of deaths in Ehpads (care homes) and EMS (medico-socio centres) now stands at 16,402 while the total number of deaths in hospitals is 36,329.
100 departments are currently in a situation of ‘high vulnerability’ while Ile-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Hauts-de-France and Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur still have the highest number of hospitalisations.
Hospital cases by region, plus number of deaths in the 24 hours to Monday:
- Ile-de-France: 5,726 hospitalisations and 62 deaths in 24 hours
- Grand Est: 2,489 hospitalisations and 50 deaths in 24 hours
- Hauts de France: 2,811 hospitalised and 43 deaths in 24 hours
- Auvergne Rhône Alpes: 5,611 hospitalised and 87 deaths in 24 hours
- Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur: 2,710 hospitalised and 35 deaths in 24 hours
- Brittany: 546 hospitalised and 9 deaths in 24 hours
- Normandy: 1,229 hospitalised and 22 deaths in 24 hours
- Nouvelle-Aquitaine: 1,552 hospitalised and 22 deaths in 24 hours
- Pays de la Loire: 950 hospitalised and 9 deaths in 24 hours
- Occitanie: 1,689 hospitalisations and 12 deaths in 24 hours
- Centre-Val de Loire: 906 hospitalised and 28 deaths in 24 hours
- Burgundy-Franche-Comté: 1,744 hospitalised and 28 deaths in 24 hours
France currently has 3,724 cluster outbreaks, including 1,589 in Ehpad.
First stage of deconfinement begins
As of last Saturday, November 28, shops in France are now able to open, while individuals can enjoy longer exercise outings (three hours, instead of one) within a longer radius (up to 20kms instead of one).
‘Non-essential’ shops like bookshops, clothes shops, toy shops, flower shops, hairdressers and beauticians, as well as libraries, can stay open until 9pm, with strict sanitary protocols in place (one customer per 8 square metres of shop space).
Note that small family units – ie. two parents with a child – are deemed to be one person in this case.
Cinemas, theatres, museums, cafés, restaurants and bars are still not allowed to reopen, and visits to another region are still prohibited, as are visits to the homes of friends or family members. Gyms and sports centres remain closed until January 20, 2021.
However, immobiliers are now open, and property viewings can take place.
Attestation de déplacement forms are still obligatory, and have been updated to include new elements such as an option for a visit to the library.
What happens on December 15?
Lockdown restrictions will end if certain Covid control targets are met – an average number of daily cases below 5,000 and the number of patients in intensive care dropping to between 2,500 to 3,000 or less – with a 9pm-7am curfew set to be introduced instead.
Travel from one region of France to another will be permitted, as will foreign travel, but only in accordance with the travel restrictions set up in the destination country.
As for Christmas, in a press conference Prime Minister Jean Castex said a temporary lifting of the curfew measures would apply on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
“But that does not mean that we can celebrate Christmas and the New Year like previous years,” he said.
Cinemas and museums can reopen from December 15 but there is bad news for skiers – while resorts may open, ski lifts and public facilities will stay closed.
A campaign, called #CET HIVER, JE SKIE ! has been launched to urge a government rethink.
The third stage of the easing of lockdown will follow on Wednesday, January 20, when restaurants, cafés and gyms can open – but again, only if key patient targets are met. However, bars and nightclubs still have no confirmed reopening date.
France’s vaccination plan: what you need to know
France’s La Haute Autorité de Santé, an independent scientific advisory body, yesterday unveiled its recommendations for the country’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy. President Macron said last week that the rollout could begin “probably as early as the end of December-early January”.
Here are the key points of its plan:
- It supports Macron’s view that vaccination will not be obligatory.
- Two groups will be prioritised: people at the greatest risk of developing a serious form of Covid-19, and medical health professionals, paramedics, medical auxiliaries, stretcher-bearers, social workers and other professions likely to “be in contact with patients infected with Sars CoV-2”.
- A staggered vaccination. Since the delivery of vaccine doses will not allow all “priority” audiences to be vaccinated at once, the campaign will be staggered in “five progressive phases”.
- Transparency. The body said it “reminds the public of the need for clear and accessible information at all stages of vaccine availability”. It said that the vaccination plan should only be deployed if “studies establish proof that vaccines have a possible effectiveness on the transmission of the virus and that the availability of vaccines (is) sufficient”.
Some experts believe that a major challenge facing health authorities will be to convince the French of the need or effectiveness of a vaccine.
- Post-vaccine monitoring. The Haute Autorité de Santé recommends “monitoring the distribution of vaccine doses in order to be able to remobilise them if necessary for priority cases” and to allow “real-life data collection” to monitor vaccination.
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