President Emmanuel Macron defended his decision to hold a third shutdown on Saturday, telling the public he believed in their ability to curb COVID-19 with less serious curbs even when a third wave spreads and vaccine rollout falters.
From Sunday, France will close the borders to all but significant travel to and from countries outside the European Union, while arrivals from the bloc must show a negative test. Large shopping centers will be closed and police patrols will be increased to implement a curfew at 18.00.
But Macron has stopped not ordering a new day stop and says he first wants to see if other measures will be enough to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
With 10% of cases now attributable to the more contagious variant first found in the UK, senior doctors have recommended a new suspension, and an opinion poll showed that more than three quarters of French people now think it is inevitable. The survey also showed declining public confidence in the government’s handling of the crisis.
“I trust us. These hours we live are crucial. Let’s do everything we can to slow down the epidemic together,” Macron tweeted.
I have confidence in us. The hours that we live are not crucial. Do everything to free the whole epidemic.
– Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 30, 2021
Macron has also been under fire for rolling out vaccines at a slower pace than other major EU countries and much slower than the UK or US. France’s latest figures show that so far it has given only 1.45 million vaccine doses. By comparison, the United Kingdom has registered 8.4 million.
France reported 24,393 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, up from 22,858 the day before, while the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital remained above 27,000 for the fifth day in a row.
The rate of new infections is still lower than it was when the last lock was ordered in October, but the hospital stay is already comparable.
Paris resident Sami Terki said it was “a good thing at the moment – even mentally – not to have to go through a new suspension”. But he added: “My only concern is that we then make the decision to lock up too late.”
The Public Health Service said that the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care fell slightly to 3,113. As a sign of hospital pressure, two critically ill COVID patients will fly from Marseille to the western Brittany region on Friday.
Professor Dominique Rossi, head of the Marseille Medical Commission, said the local health authority had asked hospitals in the Bouche-du-Rhône area to suspend 40% of all non-urgent medical procedures.
Managing the flow of COVID and non-COVID patients was “a real ethical headache,” he told Reuters. “(COVID-19) forecasts are really worrying and the shortage of staff, which has already been exhausted, adds another concern.”
( Jowharwith REUTERS)