New protocol in schools, meeting in Matignon, vaccination pass at the National Assembly: in the midst of the wave of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the government is placing the start of the school year and the month of January under close surveillance.
While new rules to try to curb the epidemic come into force on Monday, Prime Minister Jean Castex will meet at 4 p.m. ten of his ministers to “take stock of the impact” of the variant and “the continuity of essential public services” , Matignon announced to AFP on Sunday.
Sectors concerned: “hospitals, places of education, public transport, administrations, army, police stations and police stations or even companies in the energy sector”, at a time when the explosion of contaminations generates a sharp increase in sick leaves.
Health Minister Olivier Véran warned Monday on France Inter that January will be “difficult in the hospital”, hospitalizations for Covid being added to other pathologies, including winter illnesses such as the flu.
On average over the last seven days, more than 160,000 people have been infected, with daily peaks sometimes beyond 200,000, according to Public Health France.
In the process, hospital pressure is still rising (more than 19,000 patients hospitalized on Sunday evening, including more than 3,500 in critical care), even if it remains for the time being at lower levels than during previous peaks.
– Reinforced tests to return to school –
The students made their return to school on Monday as planned, with a modified health protocol only marginally. The only change: a strengthening of the tests, brought to three in four days if a positive case is detected in a class.
Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer repeated Monday on LCI that “children are the top priority” and “the closure of schools can only be a last resort”.
Elsewhere, in an attempt to curb the epidemic and maintain economic activity, new provisions come into force: wearing a mask compulsory from the age of six, isolation of patients reduced to five days after a negative test, minimum number of teleworking of three days per week where possible, gauges for cultural shows and sporting gatherings or even an increase from four to six in the number of children who can be accommodated simultaneously by childminders.
The bill transforming the health pass into a vaccine pass also arrives at the National Assembly on Monday, before the Senate on Wednesday.
Objective: to further increase the pressure on the nearly five million French people over the age of 12 who have not been vaccinated and who, unable to prove their vaccination status, will no longer have access to leisure activities, restaurants and bars, fairs or to interregional public transport.
The Minister of Health clarified Sunday that to have a complete vaccination schedule, it will be necessary from February 15 to have performed its booster dose maximum four months after the previous one, and no longer seven (an infection is always equivalent to a injection).
This pass will allow “to avoid much more coercive measures”, such as confinements or curfews, pleads the president LREM of the commission of Laws Yaël Braun-Pivet.
– Collective “form of immunity” –
However, LFI, RN and PCF MPs will vote against. PCF MP and presidential candidate Fabien Roussel does not want the vaccination pass “for minors or adults”, fearing that the system, in the long run, “requires the French every four months to get another dose “, he explained on Europe 1.
But these votes will be insufficient to prevent the adoption of the text.
With this pass, the government takes its strategy based on a vast vaccination campaign up a notch, relaunched in December with the recommended injection of a third dose, but also the opening of vaccination for 5-11 year olds. on a voluntary basis.
Olivier Véran indicated on Monday that the question of a fourth dose of vaccine “will arise quickly enough for fragile, immunocompromised or very old people”.
He also confirmed a glimmer of hope after almost two years of pandemic, estimating that with the multiplication of contaminations by Omicron and vaccination, there is “a possibility” that this fifth wave is “perhaps the last”, because “it is probable that we have all acquired some form of immunity.”