“Our duty is to do everything possible to avoid a new confinement”, declared Jean Castex, Friday evening, at the end of a defense council held at the Elysee. “The next few days will be decisive. “, continued the Prime Minister before announcing new measures to try to contain the epidemic of covid 19.
While the shadow of a new containment had been hovering for several days, it was therefore decided to take some additional measures, hoping to escape the generalized containment. Except that “The situation is very bad and will not get better”, confirms Catherine Hill, epidemiologist and biostatistician, the day after Jean Castex’s announcements. ” Angry “, a hospital doctor prefers not to comment on the decision.
“There is a risk taking assumed by the executive”, emphasizes, meanwhile, Pascal Crepey, professor at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health. For the epidemiologist, if confinement is the only measure that has so far demonstrated its effectiveness, “We always know more about the transmission of the virus: it is especially meals and moments without a mask that are conducive to contamination. “
Thus, without going so far as to confine, a strict application of telework, for example, could have a real impact. Same feeling for Yves Coppieters, teacher at the Free University of Brussels: “For a year now, we have known how to protect ourselves from the virus: limitation of movement, barrier gestures, isolation of the contaminated, wearing of a mask…” This is not without effectiveness as the Belgian epidemiologist notes: “The exponential phase has not started in France which, in fact, is holding up better than its European neighbors. The difficulty is that the impact of the measures taken is only measured after two to three weeks. “
And everything is accelerating with the English variant. Against this mutant virus, epidemiologists agree: it is present in France, no need to close European borders. On the other hand, if it is no longer possible to enter France from a country outside Europe, this will perhaps make it possible to avoid as much as possible the introduction of the South African and especially Brazilian variants. . In the meantime, Catherine Hill is sounding the alarm bell: “We only go back to jump better. Hospital services will be saturated. And every day, we count the dead… ”
Everyone also agrees that “If vaccination has raised all hopes, it is not a strategy to manage the epidemic in the immediate future, insists Yves Coppieters. The effect of vaccination will not be felt until the summer. “ For Catherine Hill, it is absolutely necessary to go through a massive screening: “We still have not understood the dynamics of the epidemic which is circulating quietly. Nearly 60% of infected people are asymptomatic or in the pre-symptomatic phase, and do not know they are contagious ”. Basically, testing after the fact, once the disease was declared, did not prevent transmission. “Real prevention involves mass screening with isolation of contagious diseases”, insists the epidemiologist.
A test approach approved by Yves Coppieters: “You have to test larger, not just people, but entire groups, communities, and limit travel. “
By avoiding confinement, the government also clearly wants to heal the morale of the French: “Binding or even liberticidal measures are only acceptable if there is a prospect for the future …, concedes Yves Coppieters. It would be necessary to arrive at differentiated measures according to regions and activities, and to learn to live in times of epidemic for quite some time. ”