Confinement on weekends, general wearing of masks, closure of shops of more than 5,000 square meters … New restriction measures were announced, Monday, February 22, in the Alpes-Maritimes, where the Covid-19 epidemic is blazing since several weeks. They were expected. Visiting Nice, Saturday February 20, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, had asked the prefect and elected officials of the department to conduct a consultation for “Take additional measures ranging from a reinforced curfew to local containment on weekends to stem the epidemic”.

This is a first in a metropolitan area: Nice, and the towns of the coastal urban area, which stretch from Menton to Théoule-sur-Mer, will have a ” partial containment “During the next two weekends, announced the prefect, Bernard Gonzales, at a press conference. On the model of the rules applied in March, travel will be prohibited unless there is an exemption (shopping, doctor’s appointments, walks limited to one hour within a radius of 5 km from home, etc.) from Friday evening at 6 p.m. to Monday morning at 6 hours.

It was also decided to close shops and shopping malls of more than 5,000 square meters, with the exception of food shops and pharmacies in particular. These businesses will be authorized to maintain an activity of ” click and collect »And home delivery.

Throughout the department, wearing a mask will be made compulsory “In all areas with high traffic”, the prefect also announced, and border controls will be reinforced on road, rail and air routes.

The implementation of more restrictive measures had received the support of the LR mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, who defended, on Twitter, the “Need to set up minimum confinement on weekends”, and even that of “Move to generalized confinement”, “If, by Wednesday, in the Alpes-Maritimes, the incidence rate increased by more than 10%”.

For the deputy LR Eric Ciotti, “Weekend containment is preferable to total containment, and this can deter the flow of people from outside”. The chosen one pleaded for “Spare the high country, where viral circulation is less”. “I have never had any controversy over protective measures involving deprivation of liberty, and it must be understood that this third wave is much more deadly for our department, we will soon reach 1,500 deaths”, he adds.

“Massive screening”

The Alpes-Maritimes are at the top of the most affected departments, with an incidence rate of 588 cases per 100,000 inhabitants (over one week), on February 22, according to the regional health agency, against 190 at the level national, with a British variant rate above 50%. The test positivity rate there reached 10.4%, against 6% nationally, on February 18. Viral circulation is even higher in the Nice metropolis, with 735 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, which is also a figure higher than the average for the 22 other metropolises in the country, which stands at 240. The situation has deteriorated in Nice since the beginning of the year. mid-December, with an increase above 500 cases per 100,000 inhabitants from January 9, and 700 on February 11.

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During his trip to Nice on Saturday, the Minister of Health announced a strengthening of checks on compliance with health instructions and “Massive screening” in schools at the start of the school year with saliva tests, as well as sending 3,500 additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. A thousand additional doses were added during the weekend, announced the prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes on Monday, while massive deliveries of AstraZeneca vaccines must also arrive in the coming days.

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This decision to reconfinement the weekend is not, however, unanimous. For Jean Leonetti, LR mayor of Antibes, the measure seems “Sanitary and penalizing useless”. “We know that the contaminations are first of all family and professional, this will perhaps limit family reunions a little, but the contaminations take place mainly indoors, and we continue to take measures that prevent life in the home. ‘outside’, points to the elected official, who was opposed to it with some neighboring mayors, in whom the impact is less than in Nice, he underlines. ” They are not two weekends of confinement that will slow down the pandemic, he said, it is still an intermediate choice which will give an intermediate result … The population is fed up with stop and go, the next move, what is it? ” For him, the main difficulty remains: the lack of endowment of hospitals and resuscitation, and the lack of vaccines. “The only good method would have been strict confinement while massively vaccinating”, he judges.

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To the hospital, “We have been pulling the alarm signal for a month”, underlines Sylvia Benzaken, vice-president of the medical committee of establishment of the CHU of Nice, for whom “We must stop the circulation of the virus, otherwise we will have to deprogram other patients, it will be terrible”. Health establishments in the Alpes-Maritimes are already at a deprogramming level of 20 to 30%, she warns. And 79 of the 80 intensive care beds dedicated to Covid-19 patients were occupied, Sunday February 21, as well as around thirty intensive care beds. With a particularity for this epidemic rebound: the hospitalized patients are younger, she reports, with a median age down to 60 years.

“It’s as if there was blindness, that nobody had seen the Alpes-Maritimes for weeks, the dynamics of the incidence rate, the permanent increase in hospitalized patients since Christmas, the opening of additional beds… “, says the immunologist.

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For ten days, the tension has risen a notch. “ We have seen an acceleration of contaminations and hospitalizations, as during the second wave “, Reports the infectious disease specialist at the Nice University Hospital, Michel Carles, in charge of regulating Covid-19 hospitalizations in the department. Over the same period, the rate of British variant exploded, going from 20% of the tests screened, to 80%, according to the reports of the laboratories, he reports.

Several resuscitation patient transfers were necessary (two to Gap, one to Marseille). “We will have to make other transfers in the coming days”, foresees the doctor, for whom it appears urgent that ” the measures already taken are actually applied ”On the territory, he said, citing the wearing of the mask, the question of the low concentration of people in the stores, teleworking or the control of PCR tests on arrival at the airport and the monitoring of the periods of ‘isolation.

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