TRACKS – In order not to be overwhelmed by the fifth wave and prevent the progression of Omicron, the government is not ruling out announcing new measures on Monday which could help to break a “dizzying” curve in infections. Which ones?
Audrey LE GUELLEC –
At three weeks before Christmas, can France take measures as severe as its neighbors which prohibit access to certain places for the unvaccinated or close schools a week before the initial date of the holidays? While the Covid-19 epidemic is experiencing clear progress in France, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Thursday that a Health Defense Council would be held on Monday in order to see “whether further action is required”.
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Covid-19: the challenge of vaccination
“It’s a dizzying curve and therefore it is a Defense Council meeting in this context”, commented government spokesman Gabriel Attal. “We will, as always, with pragmatism, proportion, and with the same philosophy, an assessment of the situation and the answers to be provided”, said the head of state Emmanuel Macron on Friday from Dubai.
But what are the options on the table?
Return to widespread teleworking?
The Minister of Labor, Élisabeth Borne, recently encouraged the use of teleworking, without however imposing it. “Today, we are not going to set an obligation for companies, but I invite employers to promote teleworking and to define the rules with employee representatives”, she said on Franceinfo on November 26. A week ago, to the day, his ministry released a new corporate health protocol in which it is recalled that “Meetings by audio or videoconference should be favored”.
From mid-November, the President of the Scientific Council, Jean-François Delfraissy, indicated that“we could probably optimize the use of telework in this phase to face the fifth wave”. Discussions are still underway with professionals, but has the time come?
Wearing a mask outside general?
If several prefectures again impose the wearing of a mask compulsory for all in the public space in the face of the increase in positive cases, the rule does not apply at the national level, as has already been the case in the past in the case of epidemic resurgence. This avenue is therefore potentially not excluded while, according to our information, the reinforcement of barrier gestures must be examined.
Strengthening of the health pass?
The health pass is now compulsory in public transport, bars, restaurants, cinemas, museums, hospitals and retirement homes, but remember that this summer, at the heart of the fourth wave, it was also especially requested at the entrance of shopping centers of more than 20,000 m2.
Recently, some prefects have also made it compulsory during “festive events”, including Christmas markets. Could a return or an extension of either of these measures be on the agenda?
The return of gauges “could be a discussion”, tells us a government adviser.
Bring forward the school holidays?
Belgium announced on Friday that the school holidays, which were initially due to start on December 24, will be brought forward by one week. In April 2021, France had also opted for this alternative by imposing a week of distance school and by unifying the Easter school holidays for two weeks. While the incidence rate is currently very high (754 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) in 6-10 year olds, a population that cannot be vaccinated, this option could again prove to be appropriate. It remains that Bruno Lina, virologist and member of the Scientific Council, if he recognized that “children, in unvaccinated age groups, are now the main driver of the epidemic recovery”, do not argue for this solution. In the JDDrather he advocates “the development of screening”.
Vaccination of children?
There will not only be restrictive measures on the table of the next Defense Council. “One point concerns the possible priority vaccination of children aged 5 to 11”, according to a document from the Ministry of Health presented Friday to representatives of hospitals, clinics and liberal caregivers and consulted by AFP.
The ministry even affirms that “the precise schedule for the vaccination of 5-11 year olds will be specified at the end of the Council meeting on December 6”, and adds that “the opening of vaccination to all children” of this age group is expected “beginning of January 2022”. Meanwhile, “lPfizer pediatric vaccine doses will be delivered “ at hospital pharmacies from December 13, then “in the city” from “end December” of “authorized health professionals”.
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A government source, however, told AFP that the decision remains suspended on the advice of several bodies, including the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) which has not yet responded to the executive’s referral on this matter. topic. The High Authority for Health (HAS) has not given the green light to the vaccination of all 5-11 years, which it recommends for the moment only to 360,000 children. “which present a risk of developing a severe form of the disease”.
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