Mask-up in France. It’s the law in public spaces inside – including shops, covered markets and administrative buildings. There is a fine of 135 euros if you don’t do so.
There have been upsurges in cases of Covid–19. Most of them are isolated to specific locations like care homes – or identifiable to foreign travellers. Some of it is due to Summer family reunions.
“The circulation of the virus raises serious concerns in metropolitan France”, the Academy of Medicine has pointed out, worried about a “tendency to relax in the observation of barrier measures” which “tends to worsen with the summer season”. The system is getting better at rapidly identifying where outbreaks occur and the origin of the problem.
A few hundred isolated situations that can be controlled in the whole of France is not necessarily a wave – far from it at the moment. But 400 to 500 of these hot spots is of enough concern to get strict about masking-up. It is now the law to do so in closed public spaces.
There are no further measures at this point – and no restrictions like quarantine, other than testing which will definitely accelerate.
The R Measure
One of the measures that is closely watched is called R. If R is less than 1 that means that the persons infected do not themselves infect an equivalent number. So the virus does not get the upper-hand and the infected population decreases.
But at the moment there is an up-tick of R to 1.2 overall in France. This means that each infected person is infecting more than one other and the infected population is slightly on the increase. So 10 infected people will infect an additional 12 on average.
There are some spots that are “hotter” than others. Nice and Marseilles need watching with an R just above 1.5 which means “red alert”.
Brittany and Reunion are special cases with R above 2.
Whenever these upsurges take place the safe and prudent thing to do is mask-up and pay attention to social distancing, particularly inside. Evidence points to a much greater danger of transmission inside. And wash hands regularly with soap or alcohol. All that will reduce the risk of the virus circulating among people.
Accelerated Focus on Testing
Meanwhile testing and tracing will accelerate to identify the hot spots and then to keep them contained.
There are other ways of testing for the overall presence of the virus in a region other than R.
The Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region remains “green” in three other categories, in particular for the rate of positive serological tests. Currently, less than 5% of the tests carried out in the region are positive. The other two criteria are the occupancy rate of intensive care beds and the incidence rate of positive tests per 100,000 inhabitants over seven days combined.
There is no second wave as such, yet, but prudence requires more vigilance.
Better to be safe than sorry. And in France wearing masks in closed public places is now the law.