In France, the latest assessment provided by the health authorities (Santé Public France) concerning the Covid-19 pandemic shows at least 3,469,539 confirmed cases in total, a rise of 4,376 in the 24 hours to Monday.
The number of deaths now stands at 82,226, including 412 more in the same 24-hour period. However, as usual the numbers over the weekend are lower than recent overall trends suggest, due to reporting issues.
20,701 new positive cases were identified last Friday, for example.
In more positive news, however, on Saturday, February 13, there were 26,196 Covid-19 patients in hospitals, compared to 26,424 the day before.
The number of deaths in Ehpads (care homes) and EMS (medico-socio centres) is now 23,999, while the number of deaths in hospitals 58,227.
The reproduction rate R is 0.98, the incidence rate is 193 and hospital ‘stress’ is 64%. The test positivity rate is 5.91%.
100 departments are currently in a situation of “high vulnerability”, with figures by region as follows:
- Ile-de-France: 5,095 hospitalised in total and 40 deaths in the 24 hours to Monday
- Grand Est: 2,536 hospitalisations and 21 deaths in 24 hours
- Hauts de France: 2,553 hospitalised and 8 deaths in 24 hours
- Auvergne Rhône-Alpes: 3,564 hospitalised and 20 deaths in 24 hours
- Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur: 3,467 hospitalised and 17 deaths in 24 hours
- Brittany: 717 hospitalised and 5 deaths in 24 hours
- Normandy: 1,281 hospitalised and 6 deaths in 24 hours
- Nouvelle-Aquitaine: 1,481 hospitalised and 8 deaths in 24 hours
- Pays de la Loire: 895 hospitalised and 8 deaths in 24 hours
- Occitanie: 1,787 hospitalisations and 9 deaths in 24 hours
- Centre-Val de Loire: 1,063 hospitalised and 6 deaths in 24 hours
- Burgundy-Franche-Comté: 1,603 hospitalised and 14 deaths in 24 hours
According to the website CovidTracker.fr, by Sunday at least 2,255,595 people in France had received one Covid-19 vaccine dose, while 640,875 of them had also received their second jab.
Some over-75s are reporting problems booking a vaccine appointment. One resident of Rennes (Ille-et-Vilaine), Marie-Thérèse Quemerais, 76, told news site Franceinfo: “I try every day, from morning to night, and there is no time slot available.”
Hospitals asked to prepare for ‘crisis mode’
While the latest figures for hospitalisations and intensive care admissions showed a slight decrease, French health authorities are concerned about different variants spreading around the country. Moselle and Nord departments, for example, are showing increased numbers of the ‘English’ variant.
So, in order to cope with a possible “new epidemic wave”, the Ministry of Health has asked French hospitals to switch to a “crisis organisation” by this Thursday, February 18. The move was revealed in the newspaper Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.
In the published document, hospitals are told: “This crisis organisation must be implemented in each region, regardless of the level of hospital tension [also called hospital stress], and must be operational by Thursday, February 18.” In short, hospitals must reorganise themselves in order to respond to a possible massive influx of patients, by increasing the number of available beds and postponing certain “non-urgent” surgeries.
Hospitals must also mobilise all available staff, with extended working hours for nurses being another option.
And if a member of staff tests positive for “classic” Covid-19 or the “English” variant, they will need to self-isolate for seven days. If they test positive for the Brazilian or South African variants, this period extends to 10 days.
“Experimental concerts” in Paris and Marseille
Could there be a return to much-missed cultural activity soon?
Roselyne Bachelot, the Minister of Culture, yesterday announced “experimental” concerts in March and April, to take place in Marseille and Paris. She aims to find a working model that permits the reopening of concert halls and theatres, with Covid testing on all spectators before the show.
“Subject to a catastrophic health situation” and if health protocols are in place, two test concerts will take place “in the second half of March”, with a thousand people, in the auditorium of the Dome in Marseille. Concert-goers will be “seated with the possibility of standing”, explained the minister.
In Paris, meanwhile, 5,000 people will take part in an experimental concert in the main hall of the AccorHotels Arena, with the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP).
Mrs Bachelot also announced a European scientific conference, scheduled for April 8 in Marseille, where these experimental shows will be studied in order to “to build a resilient model” for the entertainment world.
She also reiterated her optimism for this summer’s “seated festivals”.
Economy could return to pre-Covid levels “by mid-2022”
The Governor of the Bank of France said he hopes the country can return to pre-Covid level of economic activity by mid-2022.
“The economy today is in a less difficult situation than we feared,” François Villeroy de Galhau told France Inter this morning. “Today we are 5% below the pre-Covid level of activity”.
“The economic policies, the so-called fiscal policy, that is to say public spending and then the monetary policies of the Central Bank – with very favourable interest rates for financing – have helped to soften the blow,” he added. “It is something that worked well” in 2020 in France “as well as in all European countries, where there was a strong, rapid, effective reaction”.
Part of the problem, he says, is confidence in both consumers and employers. “We doubt ourselves a bit” in France, whereas “confidence is the starting point,” he stressed. It is a question of “The confidence of individuals who can consume and thus support the economy, and the confidence of entrepreneurs who can invest and hire”.