From under control to critical: Four potential scenarios for Covid-19 in France

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Frances national Scientific Council has envisioned four likely futures for the countrys Covid-19 epidemic, from a situation where the virus remains “under control” to a “critical” health crisis. FRANCE 24 takes a look at the possible scenarios.


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The Scientific Council, responsible for advising the French government on how to deal with health emergencies like the coronavirus crisis, set out its four potential scenarios on June 4 in an effort to “anticipate the measures needed” to avoid having to re-impose a lockdown.

France began lifting its lockdown on May 11 and is progressively easing social-distancing measures. The second and most recent stage in the process began on June 2, when the countrys cherished restaurants, cafés and bars were allowed to reopen but for terrace-only service in the hardest-hit areas, including Paris.

Below are the four potential scenarios the Scientific Council has foreseen for the future of Covid-19.

An epidemic under control

This is the most optimistic scenario of the four – and fortunately, the one that the French authorities say is unfolding as things stand. On May 29, Frances Public Health agency stated that there were “no signs” of a resurgence in Covid-19 despite the initial easing of lockdown measures that began on May 11. The head of the Scientific Council, Jean-François Delfraissy, said on June 5 that the virus remained “under control”.

If the key signs – such as the number of emergency hospital visits for Covid-19, the number of patients in intensive care and the number of positive tests – are still encouraging after at least two months, “without problematic clusters” of the virus emerging, France can declare that the situation remains under control, the council said.

Even so, the Council recommends that France maintains its current level of social distancing, the use of face masks and the continuation of the “test, trace, isolate” approach to stamping out the viruss spread as famously pioneered by South Korea, with notable success in the early stages of the pandemic.

Critical clusters in local areas

On the basis of what has happened in Germany and some Asian countries over recent weeks, the Scientific Council said this intermediate scenario is likely to arise “in the coming weeks”. In particular, it said public authorities should be vigilant about locating small “critical clusters” of contamination where the virus could spread “very quickly”.

In this scenario, the Council proposes an “early, quick, massive response” in any areas where Covid-19 is spreading. Social-distancing measures should be reinforced, with a proactive approach to isolating vulnerable sections of the population such as the elderly. The “test, trace, isolate” approach should be stepped up in such areas of rapid contamination; testing “cannot be limited to people with symptoms within the clusters”, the council said.

The overarching goal in this scenario would be to limit the number of cases coming out of particular clusters to prevent the coronavirus resurging nationwide.

France has already put in place particular policies for hard-hit parts of the country – for example, lockdown measures stayed in place longer in the Val dOise area near Paris because there was still a major cluster of Covid-19 cases there.

A low-level epidemic

In the case of a “low-level epidemic”, Covid-19 would spread throughout a whole region of France or even the entire country. The disease would spread through different local clusters, straining authorities ability to monitor transmission chains.

The council said that this outcome might arise if people fail to heed social-distancing measures; in particular, a significant amount of unnecessary travel between French regions threatens to encourage the viruss spread.

If there is a major increase in the proportion of people testing positive, the council recommends strengthening existing measures such as social distancing, ramping up “test, trace, isolate” programmes, increasing hospital capacity and implementing meaRead More – Source