Covid-19: France extends curfews to 6 p.m., scolds local elected officials

    Covid-19: France extends curfews to 6 p.m., scolds local elected officials

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    Paris (AFP)

    Faced with the threat of more contagious variants of Covid-19, the government wants to advance the curfew in a dozen new departments, but local elected officials are scolding against this additional turn of the screw whose effectiveness they dispute.

    After the Bas-Rhin, the curfew is brought forward to 6:00 p.m. from Sunday in Cher, Allier, Côte-d’Or as well as in Haut-Rhin, the prefectures concerned announced on Saturday.

    These departments join the fifteen, mainly from eastern France, which have already been subject to this measure for a week while the rest of the territory experiences a curfew at 8:00 p.m.

    Other departments are expected to switch to an advanced curfew. Among them, the Bouches-du-Rhône, where local elected officials are up against this measure, Vaucluse, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. All exceed or approach an incidence rate of 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Haute-Savoie has kept it at 8:00 p.m.

    In Marseille, ignoring political divisions, the town hall, on the left, and the region, on the right, denounced with one voice the measure, which, according to them, has not proved its effectiveness. Friday, “there was a consultation meeting with local elected officials and the prefect is still in the consultation phase. He gave feedback to the Prime Minister,” the prefecture told AFP.

    – Effectiveness? –

    For the government, the establishment of a curfew, applied for the first time at the end of October, made it possible to slow down contamination. However, it did not prevent a second confinement, underline its detractors.

    The head of the infectious diseases department at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital, Eric Caumes, does not hide his skepticism: “I am not sure that it is very effective but we will see. Personally, I do not believe it but we will see, “he said on Saturday morning on franceinfo.

    Meanwhile, a massive screening operation was underway on Saturday in Bagneux, in the Paris suburbs, where one person tested positive for the British variant.

    Concerning fact: According to the Department of Health, the person tested working at two schools had not traveled to the UK or been in contact with anyone who had been there.

    For the moment, 19 cases of contamination by this variant have been confirmed throughout France (as well as three others by a different variant initially spotted in South Africa), according to the Ministry of Health.

    “This variant is already there. In my hospital, I have two patients who have the British variant. You know where they come from? From Lebanon and the other from the Arabian Peninsula. We will not escape it”, estimated Pr Caumes, calling for the strengthening of barrier gestures.

    – Third confinement? –

    Since Tuesday, the number of positive cases has been around 20,000 per day and the French public health agency noted a “clear increase in the number of confirmed cases” during the last week of 2020 (96,743 cases, + 17%). The next two weeks promise to be crucial, according to experts, with the likely fallout from the holiday season.

    High figures while museums, cinemas, theaters, sports halls (except for minors), cafes and restaurants have been closed since the end of October, with no prospect of any upcoming reopening.

    At the same time, more than 80,000 caregivers and vulnerable people in nursing homes have been vaccinated since Monday, including more than 36,000 on Friday, according to the Minister of Health Olivier Véran.

    Without uttering the word “reconfinement”, and while warning that schools should only close in the event of a “very serious” situation, Prime Minister Jean Castex did not exclude Thursday from going even further and taking “additional national measures”.

    Like a third confinement? “I would like it to be avoidable but if the curve continues to climb unfortunately, there will be no other solution,” warned Professor Caumes.

    Since the start of the epidemic, France has had more than 67,000 deaths linked to Covid-19.

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