France 'must impose a second coronavirus lockdown'

Leading expert in epidemiology and infectious diseases says country has 'lost control' of virus and government should follow examples of Ireland and Wales

26 October 2020
By Connexion journalist

France has lost control of the coronavirus pandemic and should follow the examples of Ireland and Wales by heading back into lockdown, a leading expert on infectious diseases has warned.

Professor Eric Caumes on Franceinfo

"The virus is so present among us that I think that today we have no choice but to reconfine," Professor Eric Caumes (right) head of the infectious diseases department at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris, said in an interview with Franceinfo on Monday.

Read more: France in ‘critical’ Covid-19 second wave amid record cases

"We lost control of the epidemic a few weeks ago. The Prime Minister has acknowledged this, the Minister of Health," he said, adding that he believes the current curfew, which affects about half the population as 'a risky gamble'.

Read more: Curfew measure criticised in French town with no Covid cases

"From an epidemiological point of view, it is not a method whose effectiveness is known. We'll have to wait another 10 to 15 days to find out," he said.

As reported, Senators have voted to extend France's state of health emergency introduced in reponse to coronavirus in response to an ongoing and worrying rise in the number of positive cases of across the country.

The window of opportunity for ordering a second lockdown to be effective quickly was closing rapidly, he warned.

Hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed: "Soon we'll have more than covid-19 cases in our resuscitation beds. We won't be able to care for other patients properly if the system is saturated with Covid.

"It is important to know that the later we wait to take the right decisions, the less quickly they will be effective."

Read more: Second wave ‘worse than first’ as cases hit 41,000 in France

And he urged people to cut down on social interaction ahead of any possible future lockdown instructions from the government. "That's not very nice to hear, but unfortunately, there is no other solution," he said. "Decrease our social interactions, see fewer people, our children, our grandchildren, to protect ourselves and them.

And he called for a return to employees being allowed to work from home, wherever possible. "Encouraging people to give up remote working when they returned after the holidays in September, I think it was a mistake.

"We should continue remote working as much as possible. It's a tool to fight the epidemic."

Get news, views and information from France