For the last few weeks, Cancer Support France–Languedoc have been producing useful bulletins summarising key news items from the French government and other verified sources, as well as giving practical tips and suggestions for how to occupy yourself during the weeks of home confinement. The Association, which supports Anglophones living in the Languedoc who are affected by cancer, has kindly offered to share these bulletins with us.
Welcome to our twelfth bulletin during the Coronavirus epidemic. In this issue we have information about French Government planning for after 11th May.
Plan for ‘déconfinement’/reduction to confinement
In his speech to the Assembly on 28th April, Édouard Philippe confirmed that France, and its residents, must learn how to live with Covid-19.
The government had chosen to present the plans for end of confinement on 11th May to the assembly, giving deputies the opportunity to debate for 2 ½ hours before seeking approval by a show of hands. 75 deputies were physically present, in line with current social distancing rules.
It had been announced ahead of the speech that there would not be any information or debate on the ‘Stop-Covid’ tracing digital App which is still in development and which will be discussed and debated once it is ready for use in the near future.
Coming out of confinement must be done gradually, prudently and resolutely, with careful weekly monitoring and assessment.
It is estimated that the confinement has spared in the region of 62,000 deaths and has kept ICU cases within overall national capacity, but it would be damaging if it were continued long term. The regular decline of cases, hospitalisations and ICU cases is slow, and needs to be carefully monitored in the next couple of weeks to ensure that France comes out of confinement in line with expectations from its scientific advisers.
The strategy is based on facts, and the reality that there is no vaccine, no treatment for Covid-19 and no group immunity. It is not enough to be hopeful that the virus will just disappear.
France and its residents have to:
- Live with the virus.
- Come out of confinement progressively.
- Take measures according to geographical location, acknowledging the fact that some regions have been badly affected, whilst others have been spared with few cases or none at all. This will involve devolving some of the finer points of the measures to the Préfets and mayors with whom meetings are scheduled for 29th
LIVING WITH THE VIRUS:
There will be a three-pronged approach:
Protect – Test – Isolate
PROTECT: Scientists confirm that a person can be contagious 2 days before symptoms appear and some people remain asymptomatic. The barrier gestures (coughing into a tissue/elbow, handwashing, etc), and social distancing (staying one metre apart) will continue, with the additional wearing of a mask in some situations.
Masks are now considered beneficial in protecting others if used correctly and in addition to all other safety measures.
20 million general public masks will be available on 11th May, and the distribution will be coordinated with local authorities, pharmacies, supermarkets etc. The state will cover 50% of the cost of masks for local authorities and will ensure that those on low incomes can receive free masks. Everyone is encouraged to make their own masks following the many guides now available. La poste will set up an E-commerce site to distribute masks from 30th April. Schools will be given masks for teachers and students.
TEST: it is expected that 700,000 virology tests will be required per week. Each new case will generate up to 25 contacts to be tested even if they do not have symptoms. Local public, private and veterinarians’ laboratories will give easy and quick access to testing and results. GPs will be in the front line to trace and test family contacts and CPAM will coordinate tracing and testing of other contacts.
ISOLATE: Those exposed to the virus will be invited to self-isolate for 14 days to break the chain of infection. It will be a matter of individual responsibility to follow isolation rules. There will be a choice to isolate at home (the whole household also having to self-isolate) or, to go to a hotel. The Préfets, along with medical professionals, will decide on how they will support those who are isolated.
The only contacts which it will be impossible to trace will be from places like public transport. The ‘Stop-Covid’ App would potentially address that issue but concerns about privacy and public liberty will need to be addressed in the debate due to take place when the App is ready.
PROGRESSIVE END TO CONFINEMENT
If the number of new cases does not meet projections, we will not come out of confinement on 11th May.
There have been some indications in the last couple of days that attitudes to confinement have relaxed, which is of concern. It is more important than ever to continue to observe confinement rules to maintain reductions in the number of cases, hospitalisations and ICU admissions.
Coming out of confinement will be done in phases lasting three weeks. The first phase is from 11th May to 2nd June. At the end of each phase, a full reassessment of measures and their success will take place before we move on to the next phase of measures, relaxing confinement, or not, as the case may be.
Measures will be adapted according to whether the virus is circulating freely in a given location. Départements will all be assessed according to three criteria:
- Number of new cases.
- Hospital capacity.
- Local ability to perform the required number of tests.
This will generate a rating for each département: red if the circulation of the virus is high, green if it is limited.
A map of France illustrating which départements are rated red and green will be published daily by Jérome Salomon.
Reopening of Schools
Nursery and primary schools will resume from 11th May on a voluntary basis. On 18th May, Collèges for ages 11 and 12 will resume as long as they are in a green area. A decision on Lycées will be made at the end of May.
Strict protection and safety measures will need to be in place – social distancing, class numbers of no more than 15 pupils, regular hand washing, provision of Hydro-alcoholic gel.
Masks will be compulsory for secondary school pupils and will be available and used in primary schools if pupils show symptoms. Teachers will be asked to wear masks if social distancing is not possible. Children under the age of three will not wear masks. Nurseries will have children in groups of 10 at most and will be asked to give priority to children who need a place the most.
Working from home is to be maintained, and anyone who can should continue to work from home until 2nd June initially. Employees who need to go into a workplace should try to stagger their hours to ease the numbers on public transport.
What Reopens on 11th May?
Shops will reopen but will be asked to enforce social distancing, control customer numbers and protect staff. They will be allowed to request that customers wear masks.
Shopping centres of more than 40,000 m2 may not reopen. Préfets will make this decision.
Markets can reopen as long as Préfets and mayors can guarantee social distancing rules and the safety of customers.
Cafés and restaurants will not reopen.
Personal exercise: It will be possible to exercise and do individual sport out of doors and further than 1 km from home. No team sport or group exercise will be allowed and no use of gyms etc.
Parks and open spaces will only open in green départements.
Museums, cinemas and theatres remain closed.
Beaches remain closed until 2nd June.
No festivals or gatherings of 5000+ people until September.
No professional sporting events before September.
No religious services of more than 20 people, including funerals.
Cemeteries will reopen on 11th May.
Any gathering on a public street must be limited to 10 people.
Masks will be mandatory on public transport and taxis.
Everyone should avoid unnecessary travel by public transport and try to avoid busy times.
The Paris RATP will be 70% operational on 11th May. The aim is to have as many trains and buses as possible whilst limiting passenger numbers. Every other seat will be blocked. Lines for social distancing will be used on platforms. Regional decisions on transport will be made by the Préfets, but in line with national measures.
Regional transport will be limited. Travel for a distance of more than 100km will be forbidden except for family emergencies or professional reasons (with proof). Movement between départements must remain limited.
OLDER PEOPLE AND THOSE AT RISK:
Older people and those at risk should continue to protect themselves by respecting confinement rules. There will be no controls or permits required, but they must exercise patience and stay safe. It is well understood how difficult it is for them not to be able to resume a social life.
Coming out of confinement at the right time and in the right way is crucial to success. It will depend on how the population respects the rules and shows solidarity during this next difficult phase. A great deal of honesty, rectitude and courage will be needed by all.
Please note that good quality care for non-Covid-19 health issues continues, in particular for emergencies. All measures will be taken to keep patients safe. If you need emergency healthcare for a suspected heart attack, stroke, or any other reason, please use 15 (Medical/SAMU) or 112 (recommended from a mobile). We have recently updated our guide to obtaining treatment. You can find it on our website – http://csf-languedoc.com/covid-19-support. Scroll down to the link “getting treatment”.
Cancer Support France-Languedoc (CSF-L), Covid-19 response
CSF-L continues to support Anglophones touched by cancer in the Hérault and Aveyron, as well as extending support to people touched by Covid-19 for the duration of the crisis. In line with confinement requirements, this is done at distance. Our Helpline can be reached on 04 67 44 87 06. (This is a voicemail service and we aim to return calls within 24 hours of a message being left).
We hope that you stay safe and well.