If this Monday, May 11 is eagerly awaited by the French, for experts, it looks like a leap into the unknown. None of them can write the script for the next few weeks. In total, since 1er March, more than 26,300 people died from Covid-19 in France.
After almost two months of confinement, this return to “freedom” is taking place in a very gradual and supervised manner. Extreme caution is required, as nothing has yet been won, as illustrated by the discovery of two sources of contamination in recent days, in New Aquitaine. More than ever, the daily number of people hospitalized in intensive care will be scrutinized feverishly by the health authorities.
A still high number of patients in “shifts”
On March 17, confinement had been established to, precisely, avoid saturation of these resuscitations. With some success. Since the beginning of April, the number of Covid patients hospitalized in “shifts” has been constantly decreasing. But not as fast as what was expected by the projections of epidemiological studies and modellers.
Based on the work of the Institut Pasteur, the Scientific Council estimated on April 20 that the number of Covid patients on “shifts” could be between 1,400 and 1,900 on May 11. However, on May 9, there were still 2,812 patients in these services.
“Of the 20 beds in my department, 18 are still occupied by Covid patients. Some have been here for a month. This is a peculiarity of this virus: the patients stay on sheave longer than what we usually see “Said Doctor Khaldoun Kuteifan, head of resuscitation at Mulhouse hospital (Haut-Rhin).
A thorny situation
Another observation: the number of new Covid patients admitted to “shifts” is also declining on a regular basis, but again not as quickly as expected. On April 20, the Scientific Council estimated that on May 11, there could be between 10 to 50 new daily admissions to intensive care. Again, this is not the case since on average around 100 Covid patients continue to arrive every day.
What approach this deconfinement with a certain nervousness. The government is particularly attentive to the four regions classified red (Ile-de-France, Grand Est, Hauts-de-France and Bourgogne Franche-Comté) because their “sheave” beds are occupied 80% by Covid patients. In these areas, the deconfinement will be done without the opening of parks, gardens or the return of middle school students to class. In fact, a resumption of the epidemic, even a moderate one, could quickly enough provoke a saturation in hospitals which is difficult to manage for carers exhausted by the first wave of the epidemic.
In the green areas, the situation also remains difficult. In recent days, two homes have been identified in departments classified in green, in the Dordogne, following funerals in late April and in Vienna, in a college preparing for the resumption of schooling. If these situations seem to be under control, they illustrate the magnitude of the challenge.
“Above all, it should not be that in the minds of some people, this deconfinement leads to a relaxation”, entrusted the director of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine regional health agency, Michel Laforcade, the health authorities calling for “Citizen responsibility to ensure the strictest respect for barrier gestures”.
“Follow the dynamics of the epidemic in a much more reactive way”
The whole challenge of deconfinement, throughout the country, will therefore be to follow the dynamics of the epidemic. To achieve this, Public Health France will continue to monitor its usual benchmarks (emergency visits, emergency room visits, etc.) but will also develop new indicators based on screening, which must now be done on a large scale for anyone with symptoms.
” This will make it possible to follow the dynamics of the epidemic in a much more reactive way “Underlines Pierre-Yves Boëlle, professor of epidemiology at Paris-Sorbonne University. ” The percentage of positive tests will be a very interesting criterion because it also takes into account the number of tests carried out. In one territory, if we see that the percentage of positive tests increases in symptomatic people, this will mean that the epidemic has probably started to increase again “Says Lulla Opatowski, researcher in epidemiological modeling at the Institut Pasteur and at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin.
Elsewhere in the world, careful deconfinement
Several European countries including Italy, Greece, the Czech Republic and Denmark have started more or less rapid deconfinement measures in recent days. Half of Spaniards find freedom of movement on Monday, May 11, a measure that does not concern Madrid or Barcelona, the two cities most affected by the pandemic.
→ READ. In Europe, deconfinement in small steps
In northern Germany, the first cafes and restaurants were able to reopen on Saturday May 9 after weeks of forced breaks. But a canton of Rhineland had to reintroduce measures of containment Friday May 8 vis-a-vis a number of contaminations started up again.
China noted, Sunday, May 10, the level of epidemiological risk in a district of Wuhan, after the discovery of a case of Covid-19. It is the first case in the city, the cradle of the pandemic, in more than a month.
In Seoul, the capital of South Korea, the municipality has ordered the closing of bars and nightclubs in the capital due to the appearance of a new home.
Although the pandemic is not contained, Pakistan, the fifth most populous country in the world, eased its restrictions by reopening its markets on Saturday, May 9, where thousands of customers have rushed.