As winter approaches, France has “officially” entered its eighth wave of Covid-19. More than 50,000 daily cases have been confirmed and French health authorities are considering whether to impose masks again in public places and transport.
The Department of Health warned last month that a new wave was imminent after cases jumped 55.5%. Figures from the Ministry of Health and the health authority Public Health France show a daily average of contagion of around 17,000 and increasing.
The situation in France reflects the resurgence of the epidemic which is brewing in Europe with the arrival of cooler weather, “with public health experts warning that vaccine fatigue and confusion over the types of vaccines available will probably limit the use recall,” says Reuters.
The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported that fifteen countries in the region are reporting an increase in cases with the highest rates of new infections in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Latvia and in Liechtenstein.
Behind most of the cases are the Omicron BA.4/5 subvariants that dominated this summer, but the World Health Organization is tracking many new subvariants that are gaining traction.
According to its most recent data, the number of cases in the European Union reached 1.5 million last week, up 8% from the previous week, while the number of hospitalizations in member countries and in Britain continues to rise.
“During the week ended October 4, Covid-19 hospital admissions with symptoms jumped almost 32% in Italy, while intensive care admissions increased by around 21%, compared to the previous week, according to data compiled by the independent science foundation Gimbe,” Reuters reported. .
Although ECDC has launched new vaccination campaigns with Omicron-tailored formulations targeting sub-variants alongside first-generation vaccines, the vaccination rate is lower – between 1 million and 1.4 million in September, compared to 6 to 10 million per week during the period of the previous year, ECDC data shows this.
According to data from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS), around one in 65 people in England – or around 1,105,400 people – had Covid at the end of September.
The perception that the pandemic is over, creating a false sense of security, is one of the causes of the lower interest in vaccination. Some experts blame governments for being ill-prepared for the fall/winter season, as well as running social media campaigns by anti-vaccine movements.
The Covid-19 pandemic still seems far from over, writes Progress“At the start of autumn, the figures for contamination in France are soaring, especially among young people.”
“All the indicators are on the rise,” Brigitte Autran, senior health official and president of Covars, the Committee for Monitoring and Anticipating Health Risks in France, told the agency.
She also announced that the committee was considering the possibility of making mask wearing mandatory again in certain spaces, “with different models”.
“The incidence rate – number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants – was 293 per 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 57% last week compared to the additional 12% reported the previous week”, acknowledged Public Health France. It is more widespread among children under 10, which would be linked to the start of the school year in September. “The increase in contamination is mainly driven by those under 20”, specifies the institution.
Same as last year
This is not an unprecedented situation, according to Point. “At this same time in 2021, with the start of the school year, the Delta variant, which had also caused a summer wave, had returned to trigger an autumn/winter wave.”
The majority of current cases come from subvariants of the Omicron BA5 strain, which are more contagious but generally less virulent.
“It seems that the current dominant sub-variant of Omicron, the BA.5, which hit Europe this summer, is spreading again since the start of the school year and is progressing in all regions of mainland France (excluding Corsica), and in almost all Western European countries,” the magazine reports.
An expected wave
“Incidence rates started to rise again with the start of the school year, but the impact of this new episode is difficult to predict,” wrote The world.
“This eighth wave was indeed long awaited. The last two years have shown the seasonality of the coronavirus, whose circulation favors the arrival of the cold seasons.
The wave of falls “was inevitable”, Giles Pialoux, head of the infections and tropical diseases department at the Tenon hospital in Paris, told the newspaper, and listed several factors: “all the elements that strengthen social interactions in places closed, the increase in time since the last injection of vaccines and insufficient vaccination coverage for the second boost.
Health Minister François Braun explained that the government is following “the potential evolution of this epidemic” and recommended that the French “take their responsibilities” and think about restoring their social distancing and hygiene measures if necessary. .
Currently, wearing a mask is not compulsory in outdoor public spaces, nor on the various means of public transport. Wearing a mask is only recommended for vulnerable people accessing indoor places and large gatherings, reports Schengenvisainfo.
“The rules are believed to continue to remain relaxed as the majority of the population have already completed vaccination.”
ECDC shows France has administered a total of 153,347,334 coronavirus vaccines as of September 22. According to the ECDC, 92.2% of the entire adult population in France have already completed the primary vaccination, 74.7% have received the first booster and 11.6% have taken the second booster shot.
ECDC has recommended that all member countries start offering newly authorized and adapted vaccines to support the planning of vaccination campaigns for autumn and winter.
The healthcare facility urged that the boosters be targeted first at people over 60, vulnerable people with underlying conditions, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems.
The new wave of COVID-19 looming on the European continent could signal what is to come in the United States.
The CDC has reported rising levels of the virus in various parts of the country, including the Northeast and Midwest.