French News Digest: Macron to Address the Nation

French News Digest: Macron to Address the Nation

According to the latest Covid-19 report from Santé Public France, there were 54 deaths reported in the 24 hours to Sunday, bringing the total to 32,730. There were 16,101 new cases of contamination in the same 24-hour period, bringing the total of confirmed cases since the pandemic began to 734,974.

The number of deaths in EHPADs (care homes) and EMS (socio-medico centres) now totals 10,785.

France saw 5,084 people hospitalised in the last seven days, including 910 serious cases in intensive care. The rate of positive test results has risen to 11.5%.

According to data from Santé Public France, 70 departments are currently in a situation of high vulnerability, with Île-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Hauts-de-France and Grand Est accounting for 70% of patients in intensive care.

France currently has 1,489 clusters, including 55 new ones and 293 in Ehpads.

In a previous statement on Thursday, Santé Publique France said: “Of particular concern, in the past five weeks, is that the number of cases has doubled among those aged 65 to 74 years and increased 2.2 times among those aged 75 and over, who are more susceptible to serious forms of the disease.”

Castex: “There can be no more slackening”

Speaking on Franceinfo on Monday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said: “To face this second wave, there can be no more slackening.” Referring to a potential second confinement, he added: “Nothing must be excluded,” but said that generalised confinement “must be avoided”.

“The French people assumed a little too soon that this virus had disappeared,” he said.

Macron to address the nation

President Macron will address the French people live on television on Wednesday evening. He is expected to announce further Covid containment measures, which are due to be discussed today at a newly formed Health Defense Council comprised of ministers on the pandemic frontline.

On the agenda for the meeting, according to a source speaking to Franceinfo, is a possible night curfew in Paris and suburbs in surrounding departments, and possibly in other large cities.

The idea of local ‘reconfinements’ or limiting public gatherings to a few people will also be discussed. The one hypothesis set to be rejected is a general lockdown.

“He wants to get back on track with the virus and put an end to the whirlwind of government communication,” said a source close to the President.

More cities on ‘high alert’

Last Thursday, Health Minister Olivier Véran announced that Lille, Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble, would go on high alert as of Saturday, October 10, with the implementation of new restrictions such as the closing of bars and reinforced sanitary protocol in restaurants.

Since then, four other French cities have been placed on high alert – Dijon and Clermont-Ferrand since Saturday and Toulouse and Montpellier as of today, Tuesday, October 13. This is a result of their rising Covid incidence rates and the occupancy rate in intensive care units.

Meanwhile, Marseille and Aix-en-Provence will remain on high alert for the next 15 days.

No travel restrictions for All Saints’ weekend

As for the upcoming All Saints’ holiday weekend of October 31 and November 1, no travel restrictions will be put in place. However, Mr Véran sent a strong message to the French people: “We must remain very careful during the holidays, the summer period has shown us that. The All Saints’ Day holidays are often spent with the family, and my message is even stronger: protect yourself, protect others”.

Economic support measures announced

France’s Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, has announced several support measures, including an extension of the ‘solidarity fund’ to 75,000 companies, an extension of “chômage partiel” (furlough) schemes with 100% of costs covered by the state, as well as state-guaranteed loan rates of up to 2.5%.

“We must not wait a single moment to start the economic recovery,” he said, before stressing the importance of “responding with the same force to the concerns of all French people on the economic situation as on health”.

He talked of the need to help “all employees, entrepreneurs and self-employed, particularly in the hotel, restaurant, café and sports hall sectors, the world of events, photographers, florists, caterers”.

New StopCovid app coming

An updated version of the French government’s StopCovid application for smartphones will be available on October 22. The first version of the tracking application was considered a flop, with even Prime Minister Castex saying he did not download it.

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