France continues to suffer under a third wave of coronavirus infections in the country, with figures showing more than 99,000 people have died and nearly 6,000 Covid-19 patients are being treated in intensive care units.
Indicators do not show any improvement in the situation in hospitals, leaving open the question of whether the coronavirus fighting measures will be relaxed by mid-May.
More than 5,900 patients with Covid-19 were being treated in intensive care units on Monday, a figure not seen since mid-April 2020 and which is expected to rise further in the coming days, according to updated projections from the Pasteur Institute.
Intensive care units had reached a capacity of more than 8,200 beds in France on Friday (compared with just over 5,000 before the crisis), 90% of which are occupied, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Health. But to increase their capacity, hospitals are being forced to reschedule some of the less urgent care.
The number of new cases stabilised at a very high level last week, with between 41,000 and 60,000 positive tests daily in the four days following the Easter long weekend.
At a time when Europe has recorded a total of more than one million deaths from Covid-19, France on Monday passed the 99,000 mark in deaths since the start of the epidemic and is expected to pass the symbolic 100,000 mark this week, with the vast majority of deaths among the elderly.
More than one in five adults (21%) has received a first dose of vaccine, and just over 7% has been vaccinated with two doses. “For a population to be protected”, it needs “80 to 85% of those vaccinated”, explained virologist Bruno Lina, a member of the Scientific Council, in Le Parisien.
This context leaves uncertainty about the conditions under which the country will relax health constraints in mid-May, the deadline set by Emmanuel Macron for a gradual reopening of cafés and restaurants and certain cultural venues under control.
This is a later timetable than the one hoped for at the beginning of March when the executive had given hope for a return to normal life in mid-April.