Covid: Paris needs a 3-week full lockdown, says deputy mayor

The French capital is under close monitoring with a decision on extra measures due next week

26 February 2021
Man in medical mask near Eiffel Tower Paris. Covid: Paris needs a 3-week full lockdown, says deputy mayorThe deputy mayor said a short but strict lockdown would allow services in the capital to reopen sooner
By Joanna York

Paris should be put into a three-week lockdown to combat the worsening Covid health crisis, deputy mayor of the capital Emmanuel Grégoire said yesterday. 

Speaking to news source FranceInfo, he said: “The trajectory [of the virus] is worrying and has made it unquestionably necessary to consider extra measures.” 

The Ile-de-France is one of 20 departments in the country being monitored to see if it will need stricter measures, as Covid cases in France continue to rise. 

Covid patients currently occupy 69.6% of intensive care beds in the Ile-de-France region, figures from the government’s AntiCovid app from February 25 show. Of these, 798 Covid patients currently in intensive care.

The incidence rate is at 318.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, compared with the national average of 214.2.

Deputy mayor says current measures are not enough

The deputy mayor called the current 18:00 curfew rules “a half-measure with poor results”.

He said weekend lockdowns, such as those introduced in Dunkirk and Nice were “very restrictive in terms of social impact and hardly effective as a health measure.

“We can’t force people to live in a half-prison for months.”

The mayor’s office does not have the power to decide on local confinement measures, but Mr Grégoire will propose the short but strict, three-week confinement to the prefecture and local health authorities.

Local mayors oppose ‘unacceptable’ lockdown

But local officials - and political opponents to the mayor - have already spoken out against the suggestion. 

Mayor of the 17th arrondissement Geoffroy Boulard, and member of opposition party Les Républicains, told news source BFMTV: “I’m stunned and astounded. Three weeks isn’t nothing…it has a huge impact.”

He said local mayors in Paris had not been included in discussions for “over eight days”, adding: “[This decision] should be made by consensus and that is not the method the mairie is using.”

Philippe Goujon, mayor of the 15th arrondissement, said: “There has been no discussion, no dialogue.” 

Rachida Dati, mayor of the 7th arrondissement, said in a tweet the suggestion that people in Paris be “taken hostage” by another confinement was “unacceptable”.

She also questioned the logic of shutting down the capital but not the surrounding suburbs.  

She said: “Purporting to confine Paris without considering its neighbours is absolute nonsense: The virus doesn’t stop at the périphérique.”

President of the Ile-de-France region, Valérie Pécresse, agreed that a departmental lockdown in the capital was a “fanciful” idea, as “thousands of residents in Ile-de-France travel between departments every day”.

Situation most serious in three departments

The health situation in the region is currently most serious in three departments - Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne, and Paris – where hospital beds are running out. 

Dr Serge Carreira, head of intensive care at Saint-Camille hospital in Val-de-Marne, told newspaper Le Monde: “In Val-de-Marne and Seine-Saint-Denis this morning there is no more space. 

He described a one-in-one-out operation in the hospital. “We saw one of our patients getting worse and at the same time, we got a call from the emergency services looking for a bed for a patient who was being transferred from Saint-Denis. 

“In the end we took the patient, and transferred ours to Saint-Louis hospital [in Paris].”

At the Avicenne hospital in Seine-Saint-Denis, head of intensive care Professor Yves Cohen said: “My real fear is that we will have to choose between patients. 

“For now, we are managing to accept everyone by working at maximum capacity, but if there’s any increase we won’t be able to.”

Aurélien Rousseau, director of health authority the Agence Régionale de Santé in Ile-de-France, said services could be reduced in some hospitals if the situation got worse.

He said: “Health workers will fight to limit [service reductions] but it’s all very dependent on the individual situation, hospital by hospital.

“We must be ready to make the necessary decisions in the coming hours.”

He added that cases were rising most significantly among people aged 65 and over in the region.

Le Monde reported that variants of the Covid virus were identified in almost half of all positive tests checked for them in Ile-de-France, with the UK variant accounting for 85% of strains found.

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