PARIS (Reuters) – Jean Castex on Thursday unveiled a new series of measures intended to curb the epidemic due to the coronavirus in France, but without containment on weekends in cities like Paris or Marseille despite persistent tensions in the hospital system.
Faced with the slow progression of the epidemic in recent weeks, the threat of variants and strong disparities between territories, the government remains faithful to its strategy aimed at “gaining time” to avoid a new generalized confinement, in the hope of a gradual return to normal from April thanks to the acceleration of the vaccination campaign.
“We are not facing an exponential increase in the epidemic as we had experienced during the first two waves,” said Jean Castex, while France recorded on Thursday just over 25,000 cases of contamination.
Of the 20 departments placed under surveillance a week ago, only Pas-de-Calais will therefore experience containment on weekends from this Saturday, as is already the case in the metropolises of Nice (Alpes-Maritimes) and Dunkirk (North), due to an outbreak of the English variant, which now represents 60% of cases in France, according to the Prime Minister.
If the Île-de-France and the other departments at risk, numbered 23 this Thursday, escape “for the moment” from a weekend confinement, the local authorities will be able to prohibit access to very frequented areas for avoid population regrouping, indicated the head of government.
“RACE AGAINST TIME”
Other measures, such as the closure of shopping centers of more than 10,000 m2, will also be put in place.
“We must do everything to avoid a new national confinement”, repeated Jean Castex, promising to accelerate “significantly and from this weekend the vaccination” in the departments at risk.
“We must make efforts to reduce our social contacts, in particular not to have more than six people in private or family moments because we know that this is when the virus is transmitted”, further pleaded the Prime Minister.
“I invite the inhabitants of the 23 departments concerned not to leave their department or their region as much as possible when it comes to the Ile-de-France departments.”
President Emmanuel Macron mentioned the idea of ”holding” another “four to six weeks” during a trip to Seine-Saint-Denis on Monday.
Calling for “general mobilization” to win a “race against time”, Jean Castex said to target 10 million vaccinations by mid-April, 20 million by mid-May and 30 million by the summer , with the expansion of the campaign to 50-74 year olds without comorbidities from April.
To date, 3.2 million people have been vaccinated in the country, including 1.8 million having received the two doses of the vaccine, said the head of government, who recalled that France was expecting 22 million doses in March. -April.
Among those vaccinated, 80% of residents in nursing homes are vaccinated, which “opens the way to an adaptation of the rules of life” for the latter, but not to a general reduction in restrictive measures in the country, such as the cover. fire at 6 p.m. or the closure of restaurants and cultural venues, said Jean Castex.
NOT ENOUGH CAREGIVERS VACCINATED
The Prime Minister, on the other hand, deplored that an insufficient number of nursing staff are vaccinated.
“Caregivers, doctors, nurses, nursing aides, home helpers have been eligible for vaccination since the beginning of January. However, only one in three caregivers is vaccinated today,” regretted Jean Castex.
“This is not normal and it compromises our ability to fight effectively and efficiently against the virus,” he insisted.
The Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, also called on caregivers to be vaccinated, promising to write to them “from tomorrow” to encourage them “very strongly”.
“When we are a caregiver, it is our (sic) responsibility to protect ourselves and those for whom we are in charge,” he stressed.
Olivier Véran indicated that pharmacists could vaccinate from March 15 people over 50 with risk factors, and praised the merits of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which he assured that the effectiveness was at least as high as those by Pfizer and Moderna.
“We have asked for the opening of vaccination centers and ephemeral centers so as to vaccinate all this weekend,” added the minister.
(Tangi Salaün, edited by Bertrand Boucey)