France faces 'tough' Covid decisions: science council
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The French government may have to take multiple unpopular decisions within days to counter persistently high Covid-19 infection rates, the country's scientific council warned Wednesday.
Fears of a second wave of the epidemic are rising in France, with the number of new cases surging even though the death rate remains low compared to spring highs.
Council head Jean-Francois Delfraissy told reporters that current infection rates were "worrying".
On Tuesday, the authorities reported 6,544 new infections.
People at high risk because of old age or health problems including diabetes, obesity and respiratory issues may require a protective "bubble" around them, according to the council which advises the government on Covid policy.
The government may also have to become more forceful in some areas about imposing confinement measures for infected people and those they have been in touch with, he said, although this was not for now an official recommendation.
The warning comes a day after Prime Minister Jean Castex entered a seven-day period of self-isolation, having spent part of the weekend with the boss of the Tour de France who tested positive for Covid-19.
The fact that new cases had not yet swamped the health system might have created "a false sense of security", Delfraissy said.
There was the danger of a "very rapid, exponential rise" in some places, he said, singling out the French Riviera and Provence region.
The government may have to take "a certain number of tough decisions" he said, probably within 10 days.
"France is now at a worrying level which is not far behind Spain, with a lag of maybe two weeks, and much more severe than that of Italy," Delfraissy told the news briefing which was held online.
Some French regions could see emergency services overwhelmed in coming weeks if no fresh measures were taken, he said, adding any new steps required two weeks to have an impact.
Delfraissy, meanwhile, spoke out against closures of bars and bans on crowds, saying "that is not going to solve the problem".
© 2020 AFP