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“The Basque Country may have reached herd immunity”, according to the Regional Health Agency

Monday March 14 is synonymous with relief from anti-Covid-19 measures. In particular, the government is suspending the use of the vaccination pass in places that require it, such as cinemas, restaurants or bars. However, the vaccination pass is still required in health centers and EHPADs. The mask is also no longer compulsory in closed places, except for medical appointments, and in transport. Government decision as the health situation improves at the national level. We take stock with Maritxu Blanzaco, the departmental director of the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

France Bleu Pays Basque: what is the situation at the moment in the department?

Maritxu Blanzaco : The circulation of SARS-CoV-2 in the department continues to decrease with, to date, an incidence rate of 735.2 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. So it is falling, but it is falling slightly. This figure remains high. The positivity rate is also down and the screening rate is stabilizing. What we can say is that there is a dynamic of virological indicators which are in favor of a decrease in the activity of the virus. That’s good, but the decline is still slow.

What about the Basque Country?

Regarding the Basque Country agglomeration, last week, the incidence rate was 693.8 per 100,000 inhabitants. Compared to other EPCIs, this is a lower incidence rate, which is interesting. One could logically think that given the particularly high incidence rates that we experienced at more than 4000 a few weeks ago, especially in the Basque Country, practically everyone has been infected and therefore, that collective immunity may have -be acquired since there, the Basque Country has a lower incidence rate.

Slow decline, stabilization, incidence rates are increasing slightly, is there any particular concern?

IWorry, I don’t know, but vigilance, yes, because we know that with this epidemic, there are no rules. So is it a backwash? Is this the start of something else? We do not know. So, I prefer not to make any hazardous assumptions.

What about the situation at the hospital center on the Basque coast?

The impact on the hospital environment remains significant all the same. It should be noted that medicine beds, for example, which accommodate COVID patients remain important. We have more than 30 patients hospitalized for COVID at the CHCB this Friday, March 11. It’s not going down. There are entries, exits, it remains stable. On the other hand, on critical care as well as those relating to intensive care, there is really a very clear decline since today there is only one person hospitalized in critical care in Bayonne.

What conclusions can we draw from this current situation? Is there reason to rejoice?

I will still be very cautious. We have learned to remain so with this very particular epidemic, with a dynamic that we do not really perceive. We can hope that with the vaccination rate that we have, with the large number of contaminations that we have had and with very high incidence rates, that we are still there at the end. We can hope so, but no one knows. There could very well be a very contaminating sub-variant coming back again, etc. So, we can be relatively optimistic, but here again, I will be very cautious because we know that there is still a correlation between the circulation of the virus and the weather conditions. There is a seasonality effect. So we’re going towards spring and summer, we can think that we will stay in this decline, but I will be careful not to give any forecasts.

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