France has ‘lost control’ of its coronavirus epidemic and is probably seeing more than 100,000 cases per day, two prominent experts have admitted.
Jean-Francois Delfraissy, who is leading the country’s virus response, spoke out Monday as the country’s official infection toll hit a record 52,010.
He warned that, once asymptomatic cases and those not getting a test are taken into account, France’s true daily toll is now probably in six figures.
Meanwhile Dr. Eric Caumes, head of infectious diseases at one of Paris’s main hospitals, said the country ‘lost control’ of its epidemic a fortnight ago.
France reported 52,010 cases of coronavirus on Sunday, the latest data available. The total marks a one-day record, and shows a rapid increase compared to recent weeks
The country also reported 116 deaths, lower than in recent days, but amid warnings that intensive care beds are rapidly filling up
He also warned there is no guarantee that curfew measures currently in place in French cities will be able to slow the spread of the virus, calling it a ‘risky bet’.
It will take 10 to 15 days to tell whether the measures had any effect, he said, and if they fail the country may be left with ‘no choice’ but to go back into full lockdown.
‘If it is not efficient at all, we will have to confine, there will be no other solutions unfortunately,’ he told FranceTVInfo.
France has seen its daily coronavirus case totals rise rapidly in recent weeks, almost doubling from 29,837 a week ago on Sunday, to 52,010 reported this Sunday.
While deaths have not risen as rapidly, half of the country’s intensive care beds are now occupied with coronavirus patients, with more than 2,500 in use.
In the Ile-de-France region, where hard-hit Paris is located, that figure rises to two thirds of intensive care beds.
If the numbers continue to rise then the health system risks being overwhelmed, meaning deaths could soar as both Covid and non-Covid patients struggle to access emergency treatment.
Mr Delfraissy described the situation in France as ‘very difficult, even critical,’ adding that ‘we have a virus that circulates extremely quickly’.
Jean-Francois Delfraissy, France’s top pandemic adviser, warned the country’s true daily Covid case total is probably in six figures as he called for more action to slow second wave
He admitted being shocked at the ‘brutality’ of case rises in France in recent weeks, saying the second wave ‘will surely be stronger than the first’.
Asked what can be done to stem the rise in cases, Delfraissy suggested extending 9pm til 6am curfews that currently cover around two thirds of France’s population to the whole country.
He also suggested a ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown of the kind being used in Ireland, Wales and Scotland in the hope of rapidly decreasing cases.
In France, Delfraissy suggested the lockdown would be for a short period of time and would still allow children to go to school.
Exiting the lockdown would also be more orderly than it was earlier in the year, he said, with a return to curfew – not the ‘new normal’ that was previously proposed.
Most major European countries are now reporting daily record coronavirus totals, which are accelerating rapidly even when increased testing is taken into account.
Governments have been desperate to avoid the lockdowns which curbed the disease at the start of the year at the cost of shutting down their entire economies.
But the steady rise in new cases has forced them to ratchet up controls.
Delfraissy recommended extending curfews in place in most major French cities to cover the whole country or a full ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown to regain control (pictured, the Paris metro)
‘We are facing very, very difficult months ahead,’ German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a meeting of leaders from her Christian Democrat party, according to Bild.
Although Germany has fared relatively well compared to other countries in Europe, it too has seen a sharp rise in cases and the closely watched Ifo business climate index fell on Monday, reflecting the worries over the virus.
The gloom around the resurgent virus weighed on financial markets, where oil prices dropped on concerns of another slide in demand and stock markets also fell.
In Spain, which has had more than 1 million cases of the disease, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez warned the country was facing an ‘extreme’ situation as he announced a new state of emergency on Sunday, imposing local nighttime curfews and banning travel between regions in some cases.
Italy, the country worst hit in the early stages of the crisis in March, also imposed new curbs, ordering restaurants and bars to close from 6 p.m. and shutting down cinemas, and gyms and imposing local curfews in several regions.
Street clashes with small groups of protestors over the weekend and angry criticism from restaurant owners and business groups about the impact of the measures underlined the increasingly tense climate facing Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.