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France to hold Covid meeting as leading doctor warns ‘it is not over’

President Macron will meet with cabinet ministers on Wednesday, the day some restrictions are due to be lifted. Case numbers have dropped recently but hospitalisations are still high

A woman in a hospital bed wearing a mask suffering from Covid

The Omicron variant continues to surge everywhere, except Ile-de-France and Corsica, figures suggest - although a peak may be imminent Pic: Zigres / Shutterstock

Government ministers will meet to discuss the state of the Covid epidemic this week, on the same day as restrictions are set to lift – but one leading emergency doctor warns “the epidemic is not over”.

The Conseil de défense sanitaire Covid crisis council, including President Emmanuel Macron, will meet on Wednesday, February 2, to discuss the current restrictions and the situation regarding the Omicron wave. 

The Omicron variant continues to surge everywhere, except in Ile-de-France and Corsica. In the latter two regions, the epidemic is thought to have peaked. The rest of the country is yet to have hit an official “peak”, but figures suggest it could be close.

A statement from the Health Ministry said: “We almost had a peak [nationally], but it didn’t happen. We think we have seen the beginnings of a peak in the last few days, but we remain cautious.”

The Conseil de défense is set to discuss this so-called “double peak” and consider the first phase of the lifting of restrictions, which is set to begin on the same day. 

These will include the end of mandatory masks outdoors, of mandatory home-working and of capacity restrictions for events.

Read more: The five dates in France's new plan to ease Covid rules 

The Health Ministry has suggested that the resurgence in cases is due to the Christmas and New Year season.

Usually, holidays coincide with a drop in cases because children are away from school and people are not mixing together as much. In contrast, over Christmas and New Year the opposite is true, with more family gatherings and parties than usual.

 

‘The epidemic is not yet over’

The latest Conseil de défense meeting comes as Professor Philippe Juvin, head of emergency at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in Paris, told FranceInfo yesterday (Sunday, January 30) that the epidemic is “not yet over”.

He said: "The number of hospital admissions is continuing to rise, so the system is still under strain. Those who are saying 'woohoo, the epidemic is over' are people who are just telling you what you want to hear.

“Stop saying ‘the epidemic is over’. We don’t know that. There could be another wave coming. We have to stop thinking that Omicron is the ‘last of the last’.”

The latest figures from January 30 show that there were 249,448 new Covid cases in the previous 24 hours, and 127 new deaths. Although these figures are significantly lower than they have been in recent weeks - when cases have exceeded 400,000 per day - they are still higher in France than in neighbouring countries, and could rise again in the coming days as results from tests taken over the weekend are reported. 

Related stories

Coronavirus: Daily updates on the situation in France 
Covid recovery certificates valid for four months from February 15
Ten changes and updates for residents in France in February 2022
End of Covid pandemic ‘plausible’ with Omicron, says WHO director

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