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Covid-19: how to limit the risks during the holidays


OUR ADVICE – If the French will be able to “find their relatives for the end of year celebrations” according to Jean Castex, it is advisable to respect certain rules of prudence.

The “virtual celebrations” advocated by some countries are a bleak prospect. If Jean Castex assured last Thursday that the French will be able to “To find their loved ones for the end of year celebrations”, he called for caution in order to avoid “At all costs to relive the scenario” a rebound in the Covid-19 epidemic.

There is “Three risk factors”, recalls Franck Chauvin, President of the High Council for Public Health (HCSP): “The mixture of people (from different households), density in an enclosed space and contact time: being at the table therefore represents a risk because we combine all three. ” The HCSP must give the Prime Minister an opinion on the rules of prudence this Tuesday “Which it will be highly desirable to respect”. It should echo advice from health authorities in other countries:

– Limit your contacts upstream: in the United States, it is advisable “To avoid any contact with people outside the home during the 14 days preceding the gathering”, so as not to bring disease there.

– Get tested before, under conditions: a test could be useful if it is carried out a week before and is followed by strict confinement, “With the risk of creating a false impression of reassurance”, warns Franck Chauvin. Getting tested the day before New Year’s Eve is not very useful since the incubation period is usually 3 to 5 days. There is therefore a risk of being infected and contagious even with a negative result. Furthermore, “When we can do self-tests, it will be easier. But for the moment it is impossible to test everyone the day before ”, notes the president of the HCSP. The test is of course essential for people with symptoms.

Airports, train stations, public transport, gas stations and rest areas are all places where travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces

US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

– Remain vigilant in transport: a priori, we can travel throughout France during the holidays, which is not the case in Italy for example where travel between regions will be prohibited. “Airports, train stations, public transport, gas stations and rest areas are all places where travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces”, recall the American Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Wearing a mask and frequent hand washing can limit the risks. If the travel time allows, it is better to avoid eating and removing your mask.

– Limit the number of guests: two thirds of French people plan to celebrate Christmas only with their immediate family, i.e. 20 points more than in 2019, according to an Ifop survey for the medical site Odero published in The Parisian. “Most of our European neighbors have set a maximum number of guests (…) of 6 to 10 people, excluding children. It seems reasonable to us to recommend a gauge for 6 adults without counting the children ”, said Jean Castex. In Belgium, this “Social bubble” is extremely small: families can only invite one “contact”.

– Adapt: ​​if you don’t necessarily have to “Cut the Yule log in half” and relegate“Grandpa and Grandma in the kitchen” as recommended by Pr Rémi Salomon from AP-HP, “If we can move away or leave a space around fragile people, we already limit the risks”, indicates Franck Chauvin. Staggered arrangement, spaced chairs, sideboard: it’s up to everyone to find the right solution. As for the meal, it is better to keep your mask while preparing and serving it, avoid dishes where everyone picks from a bowl or a common plate, and designate a person responsible for serving in order to prevent dishes and utensils from passing from hand to hand. hand. “Bring your own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils”, US health officials advocated Thanksgiving. A little extreme for a reunion that is supposed to be convivial, but if you are feasting with particularly vulnerable people, why not.

The ideal would be to have silent dinners, we know that this is impossible but speaking loudly (singing or shouting) increases the risks

Franck Chauvin, President of the High Council for Public Health (HCSP)

– Do not lower your guard on barrier gestures: avoid hugs, wash your hands regularly, remove the mask as little as possible and do not leave it lying around on the table… advice that is already well known. In addition, “The ideal would be to have silent dinners, we know very well that it is impossible but to speak loudly (sing or shout) increases the risks ”, recalls Franck Chauvin.

– Ventilate regularly: this is the best way to dilute the infectious particles which remain in suspension in an enclosed area. It all depends on the number of people and the size of the room, but ventilate “Ten minutes per hour seems a good sequence”, according to Franck Chauvin.

– Limit contact with pets: “Treat pets like other members of the human family – don’t let them interact with people outside the home”, advise the CDC. Nothing to panic either: cases of Covid have certainly been identified in cats or dogs but very few have developed symptoms and no case of contamination from domestic animals to humans has been observed.

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