Health minister Olivier Véran has said that there are “small signs” that the virus is returning in Paris, as health authority l’Agence Régionale de Santé (ARS) of Nouvelle-Aquitaine issued its own warning about a rise in cases in the region.
Several areas of France have seen a sharp rise in cases, according to the ministry of health. The “R” number, which denotes how many people one infected patient may themselves infect - and is used to calculate whether the virus is spreading or retreating - is also on the rise.
An “R” number of less than 1 means the virus is retreating. More than 2, and it is actively spreading.
The latest calculations show that Brittany is on 2.62, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (1.55). Six other regions have an R number above 1: Nouvelle Aquitaine (1.4), Pays de la Loire (1.5), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (1.29), Ile-de-France (1.15), Hauts-de-France (1.06) and Bourgogne Franche-Comté (1.21).
It comes after the department of Mayenne in northwest France (Pays de la Loire) was this week declared to be on “high vulnerability” alert after new cases of Covid-19 were reported there.
Finistère has today (Friday July 17) made it mandatory to wear masks in the region’s seaside markets and other areas in which physical distancing is not possible - on pain of a €135 fine.
Wearing a mask in enclosed public spaces is set to become mandatory across the country from Monday.
In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, ARS reminded people to “rigorously apply barrier methods”, as it said it had recorded 10 new clusters in the region, including six in Bordeaux (Gironde) and two in Vienne. Many of these cases have been linked to “private events” - such as weddings and parties - from within a “wide family network”.
The ARS said that party and wedding season, as well as tourism, over the summer months could contribute to the spread of the virus.
It also said that the situation could be worsened by people coming back from trips abroad, and seasonal workers coming to farming areas, such as happened in one cluster in Parentis-en-Born (Landes).
Summer season, fewer precautions
The statement warned: “The season for family reunions and various festivities presents a favourable context for an active restart of the circulation of the virus in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, a region, that is also very touristy.”
The Gironde department is now on “moderate vulnerability” alert, the ARS said, with “a negative development of health indicators” such as the number of positive cases, new clusters, new calls to health line SOS Médecins, and new hospitalisations linked to Covid.
It said this was due to a “drop in protective measures taken by the population” and said that the alert was a “sign that the situation can change very quickly”.
It warned that there had also been a rise in the number of people being admitted to intensive care since the last update - two more than on July 10, for 11 in total - and three more deaths.
The ARS said: “The population must continue its efforts, and establishments, shops, leisure and tourism sites, festival organisers and groups must work to make their visitors apply the [health] recommendations.”
The French government is continuing to update an interactive map showing the number of confirmed cases and hospitalisations across the country, including the numbers currently in intensive care.
The map allows you to click on your region, and zoom in to see exactly where the cases are located, by department.
The website allows you to search by hospitalisations, new cases, new intensive care admissions, and hospital deaths. Click on the image below to search.
(Map: Gouvernement.fr / Screenshot)
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