“The virus is spreading steeply”. This is the message conveyed by French Health Minister Olivier Véran in a Covid-19 press conference this Wednesday September 23, 2020. The minister spoke about “measures fit for each territory” and the government’s strategy to fight against the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, he also presented the new map of the different areas on alert in France.
First of all, the Health Minister addressed the strong increase of the circulation of the virus in territories. He said the “incidence rate keeps on growing” and the “virus reproduction rate remains above 1”. Furthermore, the “positivity rate of tests reaches 6.14%” and the share of Covid patients has “reached 19% above the domestic level”. Yesterday alone, there have been “over 600 daily admissions at the hospital”.
Therefore, Olivier Véran used the situation in Île-de-France as an example saying the “health system is under pressure” with a share of Covid patients representing “4% of the ER’s activity” in the region. A number that “doubled” as he insists on. The government’s goal is to “protect our hospitals and our intensive care units”.
Then, the Health minister has presented the different indicators of the epidemic enabling to rank territories. The incidence rate measuring the intensity of the virus circulation, the incidence rate in elderly people, and the share of Covid patients in ICUs. Depending on the three criteria, each department is ranked in one of the 4 alert categories. First, the alert area, in pink, then the reinforced alert area in red, the maximum alert area in purple (or scarlet), and last but not least, health emergency, in grey.
With this in mind, he announced new restrictions in the 69 departments in listed in reinforced alert area. Paris and the inner suburbs of Paris are concerned. A meeting led by the prefect and the elected representatives is expected to take place within 48 hours to adapt the measures. Some of these measures will be implemented from Saturday September 26, 2020, the others from Monday September 28, 2020.
Measures for departments in reinforced alert area:
Furthermore, the Health minister called in “changing our behaviors and habits” in the cities concerned. He also reminded the importance of limiting social contacts as much as possible especially with elderly people. The government requires “vigilance at any time […] given the risk” the virus represents.
Moreover, cities such as Aix and Marseille are set in maximum alert area. Thus, these places get other and more restrictive measures. They will be implemented from Saturday September 26, 2020 before the prefect and the elected representatives meet, like for the reinforced alert areas. These zones have an incidence rate over 250 positive cases for 100,000 people. They are added to the other measures implemented in reinforced alert areas.
Measures for departments in maximum alert area:
Last but not least, Olivier Véran spoke about the length of these health restrictions. He said they were not made to last “over 2 weeks”. Moreover, these measures do not apply to funerals, but to weddings and family reunions. To support the economic players impacted by these measures, the State plans new announcements as for helps and economic support measures like exemption of social security contributions.