In an address to the nation on March 16e, French President Macron used military metaphors to describe the battle against the coronavirus. He said, "We are at war ... the enemy is there - invisible, elusive - and it is advancing. "
The following day, a two-week national lockout ensued. All establishments in France remain closed with the exception of grocery stores, service stations and pharmacies. Police enforce the lock, with patrols and the use of surveillance drones. The lockout order has been extended to at least April 15.
Continuing the metaphor of Macron's war, in recent days, losses in the trenches - French hospitals flooded with patients of Covid-19 - have been significant. In the past 24 hours, a new high daily toll of 499 deaths has been reported, as well as nearly 7,600 new cases. The cumulative total of confirmed cases in the county is now 52,128 and the total number of deaths is 3,523. Similarly, France has a relatively high mortality rate of 6.7%. In addition, more than 20,000 Covid-19 patients are hospitalized and nearly 5,100 in intensive care.
The hope is that the epidemic in France will reach its peak as soon as the national lockdown entered its third week yesterday. France seems to be in reasonable shape regarding its ability to cope with the peak push this week, although it will be a major challenge. Before the coronavirus public health crisis, France had 5,000 intensive care units with ventilators and has since had to increase that number to 8,000. Authorities say the health system can further increase capacity in the coming weeks if need is.
Overall, the French healthcare system excels in many key indicators, such as life expectancy, universal access, cancer care and the management of acute care for a wide range of diseases. However, in light of the obvious success of all health care in France, one wonders how it got to the point where France is in shock from the pandemic. More specifically, experts have asked whether France had waited too long before implementing a systematic national lockdown on March 17. Could the French government have done more to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus?
The decline is from 20 to 20. In virtually all of the countries affected by Covid-19, more could have been done, and the timing of decisions could have been better. Let's review the case of France where there seem to have been several missed opportunities to stem the rise in infections.
A timeline of a number of notable events indicates the initial spread of the virus and when certain government actions could have been taken but were not taken.
One potential oversized event turned out to be the annual meeting of the Christian Open Door Church, which was held from February 17 to 24 in Mulhouse, in eastern France. The epidemic wave seems to have started in this part of France, as around 2,500 infections were linked to the gathering. At that time, France had imposed no restrictions on large meetings. Nor was there a European nation elsewhere. There were only a dozen people in France known to have contracted the new coronavirus at the time of the church conference. This certainly explains the absence of a concrete plan or course of action on the part of the French government.
But, in the last week of February, it became known that the contagion was infecting the Lombardy region in large numbers. Italian authorities have cordoned off a number of localities. Some say that France could have closed the border with Italy in late February or early March. However, the government decided against it, saying that closing the borders would be "disproportionate and ineffective."
You may remember March 7, in western France, the world's largest gathering of people dressed up as Smurfs. He broke the Guinness World Record, but he also left some wondering why an event of this size would be allowed, since it was then clear that the virus was spreading quickly. A day later, the French government banned the events with more than 1,000 people present.
But thereafter, the government insisted on holding nationwide municipal elections on March 15e. There had been calls from certain quarters to postpone the poll. However, the government resisted the postponement and continued the elections.
In addition to these and other events between late February and mid-March, it appears that the use of the health system toolkit has been insufficient to counter a growing pandemic. By way of illustration, the complete French database on health insurance is a repository sophisticated enough to identify the vulnerable subpopulations or those most likely to be seriously affected by the virus and hospitalized. So far, however, the database has not been used systematically to identify these vulnerable subpopulations, screen them using tests, monitor them by telemedicine and equip them with personal protective equipment. .
Unlike its neighbor, Germany, France did not opt for rapid intensification of screening and testing from the start. And, perhaps the hospital nature of the French healthcare system has played a role in limiting the use of primary care and telemedicine. Finally, problems were cited regarding the provision of personal protective equipment, in particular for primary care physicians and the vulnerable population, which hindered its use.
In the metaphorical war that President Macron described against the coronavirus, the right timing of non-pharmaceutical interventions is imperative. In addition, as in the military, emergency planning is crucial as is the deployment of the widest set of tools possible. France may have failed in these two areas.