Public Health France (SpF) does not go all the way in its weekly bulletin: the figures are bad. For the week of July 20 to 26, the epidemic recovery indicators worsened further: 54% increase in the number of new cases of Covid-19 in mainland France with an incidence rate (number of positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants) up for all age groups. It goes overall to 9.5 at the national level and even borders on 230 in Guyana (see map).
There is also an increase in the number of clusters, with 65 new ones in one week. “We are currently seeing an acceleration in the number of new cases, the number of new clusters identified, which in itself is a worrying signal. All this shows that the circulation of the virus is intensifying “, explains Dr Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin, epidemiologist at SpF. Already Thursday evening, the Directorate General of Health announced a “Number of daily cases increasing and greater than 1000”, as well as an increase in the number of patients in intensive care, for the first time since April 8!
In mainland France, it is undoubtedly in Mayenne, a department placed in “high vulnerability” that the situation remains the most worrying
In mainland France, it is undoubtedly in Mayenne, a department located in “high vulnerability“, That the situation remains the most worrying: the incidence has doubled in one week to reach 143/100 000 inhabitants, thus exploding the alert threshold set at 50. But above all, for the first time since the end of confinement , two clusters – one in a meat processing plant, the other involving several structures including a hostel for young workers – give rise to what SpF modestly calls a “Community broadcast”. In other words, the situation is no longer really under control. “We are no longer able to systematically trace the chains of transmission as part of the investigations of these two clusters, which is a sign of the spread of the virus within the general population”, specifies the epidemiologist.
Across the country, the acceleration in the spread of Sars-CoV-2 ist “all the more worrying as it mainly concerns young adults, especially 20-30 year olds, she adds. We know that in them the frequency of mild or asymptomatic forms is high, which increases the risk of transmission to those around them. Because not being sick, we do not suspect that we are contagious, which risks reducing the practice of barrier gestures and social distancing “, and therefore to contaminate people at risk, older or suffering from chronic pathologies. SpF thus notes a 69% increase in the number of cases among 15-44 year-olds compared to the previous week. The incidence rate even reaches 19.5 in 20-29 year olds. In addition, of the cases diagnosed, more than half are asymptomatic.
There is the holiday and post-confinement effect, reuniting with family and friends, especially in more touristy areas. In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, for example, the number of medical procedures for suspected Covid-19 has increased by 16%. Clusters are developing in seaside resorts, forced to take measures to stem the spread of the virus (see box).
“It is obvious that this period of summer holidays, with the migration of people to their families or friends, favors these regroupings. This is accompanied by a relaxation in barrier gestures. And here again young adults are particularly concerned ”, note the Dr Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin. Clusters due to family reunification or temporary public and private gatherings “Like weddings” thus represent 21% of outbreaks of contamination, against 14.5% at the beginning of the month. Vigilance is waning, and too many people who have symptoms, even mild ones, do not get tested, which poses a major risk of spreading the virus, the SpF epidemiologist said. “Because without the test / isolate / trace triad, we cannot control the epidemic.”
So the news is not good. But can we already speak of a second wave? We are not there, says the expert. “We are able to react. The virus does not circulate on its own. By wearing the mask, respecting barrier measures and social distancing, the risk is minimized. It’s not inevitable, by picking up good habits and going for systematic testing even with mild symptoms, we can collectively turn the tide. “
The mask is gradually imposed on the outside
The idea of requiring masks to be worn outdoors is gaining ground in France. “The prefects will now be able by decree to extend the obligation to wear a mask to open public places. This decision can be made locally, depending on the evolution of the epidemic in each territory“, Indeed indicated the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, Friday on Twitter. In the process, the prefect of the North announced that the mask would be mandatory in several sectors of the metropolis of Lille from Monday.
In Mayenne, department placed “in high vulnerability“Where the virus is actively circulating, four municipalities, including Laval, already impose it. Quiberon, Saint-Malo, Bayonne, Biarritz, Orléans … More and more cities, especially seaside resorts, are also making this choice, whether everywhere or only in their busiest streets. However, the usefulness of extending this measure to all open public places is debated by scientists.