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School rules, free masks, peak cases: Three Covid updates in France

Discussions are ongoing about relaxing the protocol in schools, it was announced today, while the most at-risk are now eligible for free FFP2 masks

France’s government spokesman has refused to say whether France has passed the peak of Covid cases, following a drop off in the past week Pic: Jerome LABOUYRIE / Shutterstock

[Update February 2 at 15:55 - There will be a meeting between the government, teaching and parent unions to discuss school Covid rules on Tuesday (February 8), according to a government source]

We review three updates relating to Covid measures in France. 

Talks on school rules continue

No decision has been finalised yet on modifying the Covid protocol in schools in France, the government spokesman Gabriel Attal announced today (February 2) during a press conference. 

Mr Attal, speaking at the end of a special Covid meeting with cabinet ministers, said that a consultation with teachers' and parents' unions will continue until next week, and thus any decision on a relaxation of measures will have to wait. 

Among the rules being reviewed are the wearing of masks in playgrounds and the protocol in case of a positive case in classes. 

Mr Attal said yesterday that school Covid rules “will be adapted after the February break and we will work for a relaxation, we won’t be reinforcing [restrictions].” 

France’s winter school holidays last for two weeks and take place between February 5 and February 28, with the start and end date varying depending on the region. 

Read more: Calendar: France school holidays 2021/2022

Nationally, a series of Covid-related restrictions were eased today, including the end of mandatory wearing of masks outdoors and the obligation to work from home. 

You can read more about that here: Some Covid rules ease today in France, intensive care numbers stable

Free FFP2 masks for immunocompromised people

People who are immunocompromised and therefore more at risk of serious forms of Covid are from today entitled to free FFP2-grade masks in pharmacies in France.

They are eligible to get either 20 masks for a fortnight, or 50 masks for five weeks. 

To receive them, you must show the pharmacist a relevant medical prescription. 

Severely immunocompromised people represent between 10% and 30% of patients in intensive care units, said Yvanie Caillé, founder of Renaloo, an association of patients with kidney disease.

She told Franceinfo that there are between 200,000 and 300,000 people considered as such in France. 

Has the Covid peak passed?

France has now recorded a drop in the total number of daily reported Covid numbers for a full week. 

The latest figures show the average reported cases each day to be 322,154, down 12% from the same time last week. 

However, Mr Attal refused to be drawn into stating whether the “peak” has passed, saying that was for experts and scientists to assess. 

He said, repeating comments already given to the media yesterday, that “what I can say is that we have been observing a reversal in the trend, with fewer cases reported [on average] each day than in the previous week”. 

He added that the situation remains “fragile” as there is still a very high number of cases. Furthermore, tension in hospitals remains very high, he said. 

The number of new admissions to hospital this week is down 0.2% compared to last week. 

The total number of people in hospital in France who have Covid is 32,894, slightly more than last week. 

There are currently 3,751 people in ICUs with Covid, a decrease from January 12 when there were 3,985 patients, but slightly more than January 28 when there were 3,656. Overall, the number remains lower than during the peaks of the first three waves of Covid, but higher than during the fourth wave in August 2021. 

Related stories: 

Boosters, UK travel, masks: February dates for Covid changes in France

Home Covid tests to stay in French supermarkets until February 15

France’s vaccine pass launches: How and where is it being used?

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