France increases regulation in response to third wave of COVID

President Emmanuel Macron of French announced Wednesday that the country will be employing a new set of regulations and precautions to control the spread of COVID-19. He addressed the nation saying that the country needs to take a new direction in their approach at the risk of “losing control.” 

During the televised national address, Macron said that these measures will last at least one month and begin this Saturday. It is being called a “limited lockdown,” in which there will still be a curfew, and domestic travel will be limited, with officials asking people not to go any farther than 10 km from their homes unless necessary. All non-essential businesses will be forced to close and non-essential travel without a “valid” reason will not be permitted. People are being asked to work from home and schools will be closing again for at least three weeks. In the address he said that the situation right now is very “delicate” and that April will be a crucial month to control the virus spread. The Parliament will debate on Thursday on the new measures and vote on whether or not they will be put into place. 

The variant detected first in the UK has been detrimental to Europe’s COVID response and has been found to be more contagious and deadly. Macron said in his statement that almost 44% of people in French ICU beds are under the age of 65 and changes need to be made to maintain control of the virus and safety for the people. 

Prior to this announcement Macron has been facing criticism for his handling of the pandemic. His administration has been favoring regional response over national policy, despite the advice of the French Scientific Council. Nineteen areas of the country already have “reinforced slow-downs” in place, but this announcement extends those throughout the entire nation. 

In France, the number of individuals in ICU beds has surpassed 5,000 for the first time since last April, signaling a surge not seen since the first wave. Over 40 ICU and emergency doctors in Paris published a piece in Sunday’s paper saying that the Intensive care units were going to reach capacity in less than two weeks if there is no policy put in place to control the spread. The doctors pleaded with government officials saying that they had “never experienced such a situation, even during the worst terrorist attacks in recent years.” They said there was a serious “mismatch” between what the medical community needs from the government and what resources are being made available. 

Drug companies have been slow to deliver their targeted amounts of vaccines to France as well as other European countries. This has been making it increasingly difficult to control this third wave brought on by possibly more transmissive and severe variants of the virus. Macron told the country last week that increasing the number of vaccinated citizens is a priority and since Friday has allowed veterinarians and dentists to administer vaccines to speed up the process. According to government data, so far 11% of the French population has received at least the first dose of the vaccine. 

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