France’s scientific council, which is in charge of providing recommendations to the government in the handling of Covid-19, said that there is a possibility of an uncontrolled resumption of the epidemic by January 2021.
It said that the end of the year comes in a context of high epidemiological uncertainty.
“There is a lot of uncertainty about the compliance with the measures that are currently in force to limit end-of-year festive gatherings for curbing the opportunities for contamination and a subsequent resumption of the epidemic” the council said.
It also pointed out that though the restrictive public health measures taken since October have reduced the circulation of the virus, “the epidemiological situation has not improved since the beginning of December and has even deteriorated slightly.”
The body proposed three options in response to this possible risk, with the first being a “rapid, strict and possibly short preventive lockdown from December 28,” but only in the most affected regions or towns, “while leaving the possibility of return to the holidaymakers there”.
Quatre régions présentent des taux d’incidence forts et donc une situation épidémique à fort risque :
Grand Est, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes et Provence-Alpes-Côtes-d’Azur.
20 départements de ces régions font ainsi l’objet de toute notre vigilance. @France2tv
— Olivier Véran (@olivierveran) December 29, 2020
The second option is a “deferred” response to the beginning of January, and “adapted to the additional contamination that occurred at the end of the year”.
This involves “restricting social or economic activities that could encourage contamination, using scientific data from the various surveys of contamination sites to better target restriction measures”.
The third and last option is “a later response to limit the effects of a resurgence of the epidemic. This option consists of responding at the time of epidemic resumption assessed not only on the number of new cases, but above all on the number of new hospitalisations.”
This could include “increased restrictive measures, which may include prolonged lockdown”. However, according to the council, the third option “runs the risk of intervening too late and then leading to more severe, longer and/or restrictive measures than those that came into force earlier.”
It added that “on the other hand, this decision will be based on a solid marker: the number of new hospitalisations.”