Health authorities in France are warning of a “worrying development” of the coronavirus, as new clusters are reported across the country, and the crucial “R” transmission rate rises above 2 in Brittany, and 1 elsewhere.
Health minister Olivier Véran has said that there are “small signs” that the virus is returning in Paris, as health authority l’Agence Régionale de Santé (ARS) of Nouvelle-Aquitaine issued its own warning about a rise in cases in the region.
Several areas of France have seen a sharp rise in cases, according to the ministry of health. The “R” number, which denotes how many people one infected patient may themselves infect – and is used to calculate whether the virus is spreading or retreating – is also on the rise.
An “R” number of less than 1 means the virus is retreating. More than 2, and it is actively spreading.
The latest calculations show that Brittany is on 2.62, and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (1.55). Six other regions have an R number above 1: Nouvelle Aquitaine (1.4), Pays de la Loire (1.5),
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (1.29), Ile-de-France (1.15), Hauts-de-France (1.06) and Bourgogne Franche-Comté (1.21).
It comes after the department of Mayenne in northwest France (Pays de la Loire) was this week declared to be on “high vulnerability” alert after new cases of Covid-19 were reported there.
Finistère has today (Friday July 17) made it mandatory to wear masks in the region’s seaside markets and other areas in which physical distancing is not possible – on pain of a €135 fine.
Wearing a mask in enclosed public spaces is set to become mandatory across the country from Monday.
In Nouvelle-Aquitaine, ARS reminded people to “rigorously apply barrier methods”, as it said it had recorded 10 new clusters in the region, including six in Bordeaux (Dordogne) and two in Vienne. Many of these cases have been linked to “private events” – such as weddings and parties – from within a “wide family network”.
The ARS said that party and wedding season, as well as tourism, over the summer months could contribute to the spread of the virus.
It also said that the situation could be worsened by people coming back from trips abroad, and seasonal workers coming to farming areas, such as happened in one cluster in Parentis-en-Born (Landes).