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When will France know effect of deconfinement?

Doctors in France say the first consequences of deconfinement and its effect on the Covid-19 contamination level cannot be assessed until the end of May.

20 May 2020
Visualisation of the coronavirus. France will not know whether deconfinement is successful or not until the end of May.

It is too early to detect accurately now even if the number of people in hospital and intensive care has continued to fall in the last three weeks, they say.

There were 524 new cases from Monday 18 to Tuesday 19, and 18,468 people at the hospital due to the virus – 547 less than the day before. 1,894 patients are in intensive care, 104 less than on Monday.  

There have been 28,022 recorded deaths since the beginning of the epidemic in France, and 140 in the last 24 hours.

If there is an increase in transmission of the virus, we will only see it in a few days as infected people only begin to show symptoms after 5-7 days and sometimes as long as two weeks.

Read more: France urges public to get coronavirus tests

The head of infectious diseases at Bobigny hospital (Seine-Saint-Denis), Olivier Bouchaud, said to French media FranceInfo: “We can’t say it’s a victory yet and say it’s behind us. We must wait until at least the end of May.”

A doctor in Mulhouse, Dr Patrick Vogt, said the end of May or early June will be the right time to assess. He added: “I don't see any sign of a resurgence of the coronavirus epidemic.” He has been testing “every patient who feels something, a stomach ache, a cold,…” but they have all tested negative.

The respect of the sanitary measures and barrier gestures is also important to limit transmission. Dr Bouchaud said: “On this point, I think, it is going well. People are continuing to pay attention.”

Dr Vogt agreed: “People haven't rushed into the shops which have reopened, they're wearing masks, respecting distances… If these measures are properly respected, the potential increase in the number of cases will be postponed.”

France’s Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, also said that the success of deconfinement depends on individual efforts. He said: “People have shown, week after week, that they are capable of making this effort, and we must not spoil it now.”

However, the appearance of several new clusters shows that the virus is still circulating.

Dr Bouchaud said: “If we start discovering two clusters in Brittany tomorrow, then two more on Thursday, then two more on Friday, then it will be very serious. It would be a sign of a re-ignition. Exactly what we don’t want.”

Read more: Where are the 25 new Covid-19 clusters in France?

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