As the Christmas holidays approach, the health authorities are alerting. More than 18,000 new cases of Covid-19 contamination have been confirmed in the past 24 hours and the Director General of Health, Jérôme Salomon, judged, Thursday, December 17, the evolution of the epidemic “Worrying” in France. Health professionals recommend five avenues to limit the risk of family contamination.
→ ANALYSIS. Covid-19: a study confirms the risks of contamination in a family environment
The Institut Pasteur study, published on Thursday, December 17, points to the role of meals in Covid-19 contaminations. “It is important to remind people with the approach of the end of the year celebrations of the risks associated with meetings in a family and friendly environment, especially during meals”, we read in the study called ComCor, calling for respect of barrier gestures.
► Short meals, airy and low in alcohol
“This year, diners must accept the idea that meals are short”, advises Jean-Paul Zerbib, doctor in nursing home, president of the National Union of salaried doctors of the CFE-CGC. “The more we stay in contact, the higher the risk”, he emphasizes. The doctor also recommends establishing a sense of circulation and that only the guests serve the dishes, washing their hands regularly. “The virus is not transmitted through food” complete Bruno Hoen, director of medical research at the Institut Pasteur, but in contact with surfaces, such as cutlery or tablecloth.
→ PRACTICAL. Covid-19: Christmas with the family, what will be allowed or not
It is good practice to ventilate the common room every hour, or permanently if possible. A room serving as a decontamination airlock can ensure the isolation of everyone’s belongings. “Without forgetting to limit alcohol consumption: we get closer and we speak louder, so we breathe out more potentially contaminated particles”, underlines Jean-Paul Zerbib.
► The elderly at the end of the table
For vulnerable people, especially those over 65, experts recommend spacing them out. Their suggestions: divide the guests by age group, into several tables, or even behind a screen. “Despite these precautions, the elderly will be happy to be surrounded. Christmas should not be an abyss but a beacon of hope ”, insists Jean-Paul Zerbib, doctor in nursing home. 720,000 elderly people had no contact with their families during the first confinement, according to a report published in June by the association Les Petits frères des poor.
► Maintain vigilance during activities
When opening the gifts, or the traditional board game, caution is in order. Epidemiologist Bruno Hoen recommends avoiding “Shared manipulation of objects, in particular screens”, citing one of the recommendations that will be given by the High Council for Public Health (HCSP) in a forthcoming opinion. For the midnight mass, he notes that religious gatherings are not associated with an increased risk of transmission of the virus, according to the ComCor study by the Institut Pasteur. Wearing a mask, hydroalcoholic gel and two meters between believers remain the watchwords of the vigil.
► Quick test: beware of the feeling of “false security”
Before joining his family, experts recommend taking a rapid test. “It must be done as close as possible to family reunification, and a positive test leads to not participating in this meeting”, supports epidemiologist Bruno Hoen. In addition, the Scientific Council warns about the feeling of “False security” in a note published on November 14, due to the “Lower sensitivity” antigenic tests. She recommends performing a test on Tuesday, and ideally, on the Wednesday or Thursday before New Year’s Eve, for a symptomatic person, or asymptomatic but not isolated.
→ EXPLANATION. Before Christmas, authorities recommend a week of self-containment
For his part, Eric Henry, general practitioner in Auray (Morbihan), calls on positive cases to give up travel. “Some do calculations: if I take the train and sleep in a hotel in Avignon for 48 hours, I will be negative once I get to Marseille… but they risk infecting the whole train! “, castigates the doctor.
► Seven days of isolation for more caution
As for self-containment, a period of seven days remains essential for it to be relevant. For Bruno Hoen, of the Institut Pasteur, the “test and isolate” strategy is proving effective. Without guaranteeing zero risk, it reduces it very significantly. Mostly, “It makes it possible to be a little less drastic in respecting all the proposed measures which, recognizes the epidemiologist, are not easy to respect at all times and harm the quality and warmth of human relations ”.