French and Riviera News Wednesday 31st March 2021


Measures to stop the spread of Covid - The French government is considering three scenarios concerning measures against the spread of Covid in France with an announcement expected from French President Emmanuel Macron or Prime Minister Jean Castex this evening, following the defence council meeting this afternoon. The scenarios range from increasing medical support to relieve hospitals to a hard lockdown and the possible closure of schools.

19 departments are currently under lockdown in France with other departments possibly being affected from Friday 2nd April. To relieve hospital pressure, intensive care equipment could come from areas less affected by the circulation of the virus and staff from private establishments could be mobilized, a sector where 2,000 beds are still available nationally. An "explosive" proposal is also under consideration: to make patient transfers compulsory, without the consent of families, but by paying relatives for accommodation, transport and part time work. Another possibility is the closure of schools. This measure would then lead to an increase of teleworking with more controls in companies. The government has remained firm on keeping schools open saying the closure of establishments would be a last resort. However, classes are closing by the dozen on a daily basis due to the new health protocol, which was introduced where one case of Covid results in closure. The new protocol has seen the number of classes closing triple in the Paris region over the last two days with 722 classes closed as teaching staff claim the spread of Covid in schools “is completely underestimated by the French government”.

Warning – Meanwhile the head of an intensive care unit in the Île-de-France has warned that they have “four to five patients for one available bed" adding that the situation has reached an” extremely severe and critical level”. Dr Djillali Annane, head of the intensive care unit at the Raymond Poincaré Hospital in Garches (Hauts-de-Seine) pleads with the government to "not wait any longer for new measures", adding that it would be a "big mistake."

Alpes Maritimes – In the Alpes Maritimes, the Regional Health Agency (Public Health France) announced six new deaths from Covid on Tuesday 30th March with the circulation of the virus on the rise this week. Since the start of the epidemic, the coronavirus in the Alpes Maritimes has killed 1,749 people (443 in nursing homes, 1,306 in hospitals). According to the ARS, 5 new admissions to hospital were also recorded bringing the number of patients hospitalized for coronavirus to 337. The incidence rate - which corresponds to the number of people tested positive over seven days and reported to 100,000 inhabitants - is 470 from March 21st to 28th remaining above the regional average of 461.

AstraZeneca vaccine – A 38-year-old woman has died from thrombosis in Toulouse. The patient died 14 days after the injection of a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. She did not suffer from any particular health problems and had been vaccinated just before the suspension of AstraZeneca in mid-March. According to reports complications appeared shortly after vaccination. On March 26th, the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) said that there was a very rare risk of thrombosis - formation of a blood clot - after the injection of the AstraZeneca vaccine underlining that "the benefit / risk ratio of the vaccine remains positive, and that there is no evidence for the moment that the vaccination has caused thrombosis”.  The case is being investigated.

AstraZeneca changes name - Meanwhile the Swedish-British vaccine AstraZeneca against Covid has changed its trade name to Vaxzevria according to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) website. The new name does not change the composition of the vaccine.

Flights between Morocco and France suspended - As part of the preventive measures against the spread of the Covid pandemic flights between Morocco and France have been suspended until further notice. The announcement was made in a press release by the Ministry of Tourism on Tuesday. France along with Spain joins a list of 40 countries with which Morocco has suspended its flights including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Italy – In Italy, reports say that the Italian Ministry of Health has stated that a mandatory five-day quarantine for travellers from other European Union countries will be introduced from this Thursday, 1st April. Quarantine is already mandatory for people arriving in Italy from outside the EU. The quarantine requirement includes those people who test negative for Covid-19. A test is required before arrival and a further test is then required at the end of the five days in isolation.

Vaccination in the Var - A vaccination bus is operating three days a week in the municipalities in the north of the Var. The service will operate for two months to ex