Is it still possible to prevent a third lockdown? The French have been complying with curfew since the latest lockdown exit. Initially set at 8 p.m., it has been first pulled forward to 6 p.m. in some departments with an incidence rate above 200, and then all over mainland France from January 16, 2021. Even though this measure has been made harder, the spread of variants is worrying and the French are more and more likely to be placed back into lockdown. But could this scenario be prevented?
During his address on February 4, 2021, Jean Castex said the current situation does not call in for a new lockdown. This Thursday February 18, 2021 as part of Olivier Véran's latest epidemiologic brief, INSERM Research Head Vittoria Colizza has assessed the impact of curfew on the evolution of the epidemic. "These anticipated curfews have had a considerable impact on the withdrawal of the historic strain". Therefore, the arrival of variants has changed things: without the latter, they consider the spread of the "historic" strain would have reached the forecasted peaks.
The executive then wishes to give nationwide curfew a chance has it is assessed over the weeks by Santé Publique France. But what do the latest data show?
As for the efficacy of curfew from 6 p.m., Santé Publique France divided the territory in three groups:
- Group 1: departments where curfew from 6 p.m. has been implemented on January 2, 2021
- Group 2: departments where curfew has been extended between January 10 and 12, 2021
- Group 3: departments where curfew from 6 p.m. has been instated since January 16, 2021
During its report on January 21, 2021, Santé Publique France noticed the incidence rate has decreased in the first group, and has been stable in the other two. But the organization asks people to interpret these data cautiously: “the improvement of the epidemiologic situation can only partly be related to the implementation of anticipated curfew […]. Yet, the evolution of the situation was already more favorable in this group than in the other two in week 01, while it was too early for the impact of anticipated curfew to be noticed. This difference could be related to more cautious behaviors from the population during the Holidays in departments were the virus particularly spread actively and that were subject to local communication campaigns”.
One week later, Santé Publique France unveils a more complete report on curfew from 6 p.m. efficacy. Now, the incidence rate is increasing not only in the first group, but also group 2 where the impact of the measure was noticeable in the report from January 28, 2021: "Incidence rate has increased over the week (+15%) in this group in a more noticeable fashion than group 3 (+9%) for which the implementation of early curfew on January 16 did not really deliver possible effects". The situation has changed and the verdict is final: "These elements do not rule for a positive impact of anticipated curfew in departments from groupe 2, even though an even more negative evolution could have been observed in this one if no measure had been instated".
On Thursday February 4, 2021, Santé Publique France's latest report shows a new twist. This time, the incidence rate is overal stable in mainland France: the first two groups have experience a slight decrease - -4% for the first group and -3.5% for the second group - even though testing rate is increasing (+6.3% and 8.7%), suggesting the health situation is improving. As for the third group, it is slightly increasing (+3%). Last but not least, PCR+ rates are decreasing over the country (Group 1: -10.3%; Group 2: -9.3%; Group 3: -5.2%).
Furthermore, according to the epidemiologic report as of February 11, 2021, Santé Publique France notices the incidence and PCR+ rates have been decreasing in comparison with the week before and including all age ranges, especially in people over 75 years of age. As for the test rate, it remains stable and even increases in the youngest (0 to 14 years of age).