France has passed peak of epidemic says health minister

Health minister Olivier Véran made the comment based on recent data but warned we ‘still have not beaten the virus’

16 November 2020
By Hannah Thompson

France has “passed the peak of the epidemic” and is reaping the benefits of the new lockdown, the health minister has said, based on the number of new cases, and the percentage of positive tests.

Health minister Olivier Véran said on Sunday November 15: “We are taking back control of the epidemic. Everything leads us to believe that we have passed the peak of the epidemic.”

In an interview with the newspaper group Ebra, he said: “Thanks to confinement, as in the month of March, the virus is starting to spread less. For 10 consecutive days, the number of news cases of Covid-19 has dropped [and] the level of positivity and the level of incidence have also dropped.”

Mr Véran was referring to the number of daily confirmed cases, and the level of positivity - the percentage of positive cases for the total number of tests taken.

On Sunday, the number of admissions to intensive care dropped to its lowest number in three weeks, with 270 new admissions over the previous 24 hours, according to health body Santé publique France.

Mr Véran was careful not to overestimate the meaning of the lower numbers.

He said: “We still have not beaten the virus. Clearly, it is too early to claim victory, and let go of all of our efforts.”

Current confinement rules are set to stay in place under at least December 1, and shops, bars and restaurants are still not able to open.

From December 1, the government may allow “non-essential” shops to re-open, but this has not yet been confirmed.

Mr Véran said: “We will give the public more visibility on how the festive season and holiday will be able to take place by the end of the month.”

The health minister also commented on the country’s plans to introduce a vaccine, with current trials suggesting positive results, and promised that he would “consult” people in France “at every stage” towards the introduction of vaccination against Covid-19.

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