How the south of France is dealing with rising Covid cases

How the south of France is dealing with rising Covid cases
People in Biarritz must now wear a mask outdoors. Photo: GAIZKA IROZ / AFP.
Popular tourist destinations in the south of France are seeing a concerning rise in Covid-19 cases, and local authorities are having to take measures to mitigate the strain on hospitals.

Popular tourist destinations in the south of France and on the Mediterranean island of Corsica have seen significant increases in Covid cases in recent weeks, largely due to the spread of the Delta variant.

Number of Covid cases per 100,000 inhabitants, as of August 3rd, 2021. Graphic: CovidTracker.

In Corsica, where the incidence rate has reached 650 per 100,000 inhabitants, the regional health authority announced on Tuesday, August 3rd, that it was activating its “White Plan” (plan blanc) for hospitals.

This means postponing non-essential surgeries, while also mobilising more beds and staff to treat Covid cases, including calling healthcare workers back from holiday if necessary. The health authority added in its press release that it would “safeguard” certain sectors such as emergency rooms and oncology (including screening and diagnosis), where delaying treatment could have serious consequences.

Officials said they were providing more intensive care beds for Covid patients in the city of Bastia, where hospital occupancy had passed 79 percent.

READ ALSO MAP: Which parts of France lag behind for Covid vaccinations?

On Wednesday, August 4th, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region in the south of France followed suit by activating its own plan blanc.

According to the PACA regional health authority, hospitalisations due to Covid-19 had increased by 56 percent in the past week, while the number of people in intensive car had increased by 46 percent to reach a total of 197 patients.

South-western France, another popular destination for summer tourists, has seen a similar spike in cases, and on Tuesday the director of the Centre Hospitalier de la Côte Basque in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques activated the hospital’s plan blanc.

The Nouvelle-Aquitaine health authority announced in a press release that there were currently 11 patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit. “Ten are not vaccinated, the vaccinated person is 78 years old. They are all residents of the Basque country, there are no tourists among them.”

READ ALSO Tourist areas bear brunt of France’s spike in Covid-19 cases

Local authorities have also taken additional public health measures to slow down the spread of the virus. Southern départments such as Hérault, Bouches-du-Rhône and Alpes-Maritimes have made masks compulsory in busy outdoor areas, while tourist destinations on the Atlantic coast have introduced similar measures.

Alpes-Maritimes and Var have also banned the consumption of alcohol in the street. In Pyrénées-Orientales and neighbouring Aude, all bars, cafés and restaurants must close at 11pm.

However, 25 restaurants in Pyrénées-Orientales have been allowed to stay open until 2am, by applying the health pass ahead of the August 9th date on which it will become required for all bars and restaurants across France.

You can find a list of all the local health restrictions HERE.

Currently 128 people are admitted into intensive care due to Covid every day across the whole of France, up 79 percent compared to last week. A total of 1,331 people were in intensive care on Tuesday.


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