News Digest: Vaccinations Update

News Digest: Vaccinations Update

The latest report provided by French health authorities concerning Covid-19 shows at least 4,298,395 confirmed cases in total, with 15,792 new cases in the 24 hours to Monday.

There were 343 deaths in the same period, bringing the death toll in France to 92,621, though weekend testing and reporting figures are always lower due to laboratories being largely closed. France has seen a steep rise in numbers of the South African Covid variant.

The number of deaths in EHPADs (care homes) and EMS (medico-socio centres) stands at 25,405 while the number of deaths in hospitals is 67,216.

The reproduction rate ‘R’ is 1.12, and the hospitalisation rate is 89.9%. The positivity rate is 6.5%.

France currently has 26,488 (an increase of 562) people hospitalised, of which 4,548 (+142) are in intensive care.

Here are the current hospital and death figures by region for the 24 hours to Monday.

  • Ile-de-France: 6,494 hospitalised including 1,325 in intensive care and 83 deaths
  • Grand Est: 2,449 hospitalised including 407 in intensive care and 36 deaths
  • Hauts de France : 3,253 hospitalised including 571 in intensive care and 48 deaths
  • Auvergne Rhône Alpes: 3,083 hospitalised including 468 in intensive care and 49 deaths
  • Provence-Alpes Côte d’Azur : 3.171 hospitalised including 511 in intensive care and 41 deaths
  • Brittany : 663 hospitalised including 89 in intensive care and 8 deaths
  • Normandy : 1,307 hospitalised including 169 in intensive care and 9 deaths
  • Nouvelle-Aquitaine: 1,170 hospitalised including 201 in intensive care and 19 deaths
  • Pays de la Loire : 861 hospitalised including 102 in intensive care and 6 deaths
  • Occitanie: 1,427 hospitalisations including 285 in intensive care and 18 deaths
  • Centre-Val de Loire: 1,018 hospitalised including 155 in intensive care and 9 deaths
  • Bourgogne-Franche-Comté: 1,168 hospitalised including 150 in intensive care and 15 deaths

You can track all the latest figures here.

Vaccinations update

As of yesterday, 6,199,118 people had received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, while 2,429,958 had received two.

Meanwhile, health authorities have re-instated permission to use the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in France, but only for the over 55s. The jab was suspended on March 15 over blood-clotting concerns among a handful of jab recipients.

On Friday afternoon, French Prime Jean Castex received his first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, in an effort to reassure the French after the vaccine’s temporary suspension of use.

“I said to myself that it would be wise for me to be vaccinated very quickly (…) to show my fellow citizens that vaccination is the way out of this crisis and that it can be done safely,” he said at the Bégin Army Training Hospital in Saint-Mandé (Val-de-Marne).

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to both President Macron and German leader Angela Merkel on Sunday in a bid to stave off the ‘vaccine wars’, as the EU threatens to ban exports of AstraZeneca doses to the UK.

According to The Independent, The European Commission, which has coordinated the order of vaccines for the 27 EU countries, said the key point was reciprocity. It said it had exported over 35 million doses since the end of January, including 10 million to Britain, but Britain had exported none, despite two UK facilities featuring in the EU contract with drugs giant AstraZeneca.

Lockdown measures in 16 departments

Around 21 million French people – residents in 16 departments – are now living under stricter confinement measures during the day (6am to 7pm).

The 16 departments are: Aisne, Alpes-Maritimes, Essonne, Eure, Hauts-de-Seine, Nord, Oise, Paris, Pas-de-Calais, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-Maritime, Seine-Saint-Denis, Somme, Val-de-Marne, Val-d’Oise, and Yvelines.

As per previous lockdowns, an attestation (travel exemption form) and proof of address is required when leaving the house. The 7pm – 6am ‘at home’ curfew is the same as for the rest of the country.

However, the restrictions are less stringent than before – you can travel up to 10km from your home for an unlimited time.

PM Jean Castex said the rules had been slackened a little in the spirit of “putting the brakes [on the epidemic] without shutting people away”. People are not allowed to visit friends’ houses, have a barbecue with friends outside, or “gather in public spaces like parks and gardens, or outside bars that serve take-away food and drinks”.

As before, people cannot travel to another French region without an essential reason (relating to family or work).

Shops are only open for essential items, with places like florists and clothes boutiques once again closed. Supermarket aisles with non-essential items will be cordoned off. Book shops and music shops can remain open.

Schools remain open, though lycées (for 16-18 year olds) are operating a 50-50 system, with only half the pupils in attendance at any one time – the rest will learn at home.

Police told to “systematically penalise” unauthorised travel

A leaked document sent by Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, to police bosses last Friday, March 19, told them to “systematically penalise” those who do not have “a legitimate reason to travel and unauthorised businesses open”, franceinfo reports.

The memo also told authorities to use “a particular firmness to enforce, throughout the national territory, the provisions that concern the curfew, private gatherings on public streets and the closure of establishments that receive the public”.

The memo came two days before a huge, unauthorised carnival caused outrage in Marseille on Sunday.

Thousands of people (an estimated 6,500) took part in the carnival, prompting the prefecture to call out “the irresponsibility of the participants in full health crisis”, France Bleu Provence reported.

Social distancing and mask-wearing were largely ignored, and while police issued many penalty notices, there were also nine arrests, including seven for those caught “throwing projectiles, violence against the police and damage to street furniture”.

One policeman was slightly injured.

“It’s been a year now that the people of Marseille have respected barrier gestures [mask-wearing] and sanitary measures,” said the Bouches-du-Rhône prefect Frédérique Camilleri. “I would not like to suggest that these 6,500 irresponsible people represent all the people of Marseille.”

France set to join UK travel ‘red list’?

As the British government repeats its belief that summer holidays abroad will be unlikely this year, it has emerged that France looks set to join its ‘red list’ of destinations, from which all incoming travellers are required to quarantine in a hotel.

The aim is to limit the chances of new Covid variants making it into Britain.

Meanwhile, a £5,000 fine for anyone in England trying to travel abroad without good reason is due to come into force next week as part of new Covid laws.

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