Things always come in threes? The Holiday challenge has been only recently completed amid the coronavirus epidemic, and France is now already preparing for a third wave. The threat of more transmissible coronavirus variants and the surge of the epidemic lead to new restrictions including an early curfew, from 6 p.m., across mainland France.
So far, if lockdown is on the agenda, each epidemic wave yet could cast the shadow of this measure. During the two previous peaks, France did not avoid new nationwide lockdown. But in the event the evolution of the health crisis has us implement this measure again, could the government rather choose for local-based lockdowns, like what is currently happening with curfew?
Coronavirus: a 3rd lockdown, next step after the 6 p.m. curfew?
Is France heading to a third lockdown? Despite the launch of the vaccine campaign, several signs and indicators have the health authorities worried. Here are the factors showing French are about to enter a new lockdown as curfew from 6 p.m. is implemented nationwide starting Saturday January 16, 2021. Invited on France 5 this January 18, Jean Castex yet said the "previous lockdown had been decided by the president when there were 50,000 cases per day". But there are currently about 18,000 cases per day in the country.
Therefore, what would be the regions, departments and cities the measure could be applied to? It all depends on the evolution of indicators. The alarm is the occupancy rate in intensive care units in terms of Covid patients. Overcrowded hospitals lead to increasing death rate. A map devoted to this very indicator enables to track the evolution of the situation on a day-by-day basis. As of Friday January 15, 2021, there are still 6 regions in red area as for the occupancy rate: Grand-Est (68,6%), Bourgogne–Franche-Comté (90,9%), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (71%), Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (72,8%), Centre-Val de Loire (63,9%) and Mayotte (83,3%)
France Covid map, January 19, ICU bed occupancy rate per region
We keep on monitoring data as for the coronavirus situation in France closely. More and more departments are once again vigilance areas because of the virus being highly active. This Tuesday January 19, 2021, 55.9% of ICU beds are taken in France. 100 departments are highly vulnerable. The entire country is still on health emergency and is now placed into early curfew starting 6 p.m.
Another determining indicator focuses on the incidence rate: naming the number of positive cases for 100,000 inhabitants. Prior to January 6, when a department reported over 200 positive cases, curfew was likely to be brough forward to 6 p.m. This indicator could be used as a criterion to set up new local restrictions.
Incidence rate in France as of January 19, 2021
Jean Castex announced nationwide curfew from 6 p.m. for at least two weeks. The incidence rate by department remains an indicator to monitor very closely to know more about the evolution of the epidemic. As a matter of fact, even though departments exceeding the threshold of 200 positive cases for 100,000 inhabitants were first to make new measures to fight against the spread of the epidemic, including implementing extended curfew, brought forward to 6 p.m., the entire country now has to comply with the measure until the situation improves. Here are the incidence rates in each department and new departments likely to go into early curfew as of January 19, 2021.
Last but not least, the population density paired with a high incidence rate might also be taken into account when making decision to locally reconfine or not, as it was the case when implementing curfew in October. Furthermore, cities set in aforementioned departments could be placed into a likely local lockdown. In the five areas currently in red, as for the occupancy rate, cities are: Clermont Auvergne, Dijon, Grenoble-Alpes, Metz, Nancy, Nice-Côte d’Azur, Orléans, Saint-Etienne, Strasbourg, Toulon Provence Méditerranée, Tours and Aix-Marseille-Provence.
Another criterion could be just as crucial: the spread of the English coronavirus variant. Two operations are being carried out to track the contamination chains and set up a more precise map of the spread in France. This variant – said to be 70% more contagious that the virus we know so far – already led to a new lockdown of South-Western England back in December. Results of the nationwide investigation are expected by the middle of the week.