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France’s Science Council Sound the Alarm in Covid-19 Fight

August 5, 2020, 12.12 AM

PARIS, – The French government’s Covid-19 science council warned that the country could “at any moment” lose control over the novel virus’s transmission.

The warning was made on Tuesday following official data that showed an uptick in intensive care patients since April.

In an opinion prepared for the government, the council warned "the virus has recently been circulating more actively, with an increased loss of distancing and barrier measures" since France emerged from a strict two-month lockdown in May.

"The balance is fragile and we can change course at any time to a less controlled scenario like in Spain for example," it said.

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And the council warned of a possible "resumption of circulation of the virus at a high level" by autumn 2020, after the August summer holidays.

In the immediate term, retaining control is largely in the hands of citizens and their adherence to anti-infection measures, such as keeping a safe distance from others, regular hand-washing, and wearing masks in public spaces, it said.

Data released by the health department on Monday showed the number of people in intensive care had risen by 13 since Friday, breaking a downward trend observed since April, when French people were under strict stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the virus.

Twenty-nine new deaths were reported over the same period, bringing the country's total toll to 30,294.

At the height of the outbreak in April, more than 7,100 people were at one point receiving intensive care in French hospitals, which had 5,000 intensive care beds available when the crisis hit.

The country registered thousands of confirmed new infections last week, prompting some cities or regions to impose local restrictions amid reports of people ignoring social distancing and public mask-wearing guidelines.

'Probable second wave'

The rate of confirmed infections has exceeded 1,000 per day since late July.

Prime Minister Jean Castex on Monday urged France "not to let down its guard" in order to prevent a new national lockdown.

"We are seeing an increase in the figures for the epidemic which should make us more attentive than ever," Castex said.

"I call on every French person to remain very vigilant. The fight against the virus depends of course on the state, local communities, institutions, but also on each of us," he added.


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