Covid-19: why has the health situation deteriorated so quickly in the Pyrénées-Orientales?


FOCUS – Emmanuel Macron convened a Defense Council on Wednesday morning to deal with an epidemic outbreak. The department in the south of Occitanie has seen its incidence rate rise, its restaurants forced to close at 11 p.m. and the wearing of the mask widened.

It was a warning from Emmanuel Macron. In his speech on July 13, the President of the Republic, in addition to announcing the expansion of the health pass, had indicated that “new braking measures», Could be taken by the prefects as soon as a department crosses the 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. And this was the case in the Pyrénées-Orientales, where the situation deteriorated in a few days.

While the national incidence rate is 108 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants, that of the department has climbed in just over a week to 450. An epidemic resumption that has pushed the prefecture to toughen up. Since Friday, July 16, wearing a mask is once again compulsory everywhere outside except on the beach and in natural areas, while bars and restaurants are now forced to close at 11 p.m. Without it being a curfew, warned the prefect of Pyrénées-Orientales. Tourists can continue to stroll through the streets and on the beach to enjoy summer evenings. The discos also remain open on condition of presenting a health pass.

Compulsory since Wednesday July 19 at the entrance to all cultural and sporting venues, the presentation of this pass will not make it possible to alleviate the wearing of a mask. Contrary to what Olivier Véran had said before the deputies, the vaccinated will not be able to uncover their faces in this department, announced the prefecture on Friday 23 August.

Tourism and proximity to Spain

If, pushed by “a virus that infects at lightning speed“, In the words of the government spokesperson, eleven prefectures including Var, Charente-Maritime, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Landes were forced to reinstate the wearing of the mask outside, the Pyrénées-Orientales remain the department most affected by the increase in the number of contaminations.

Incidence rate in France – July 22, 2021 CovidTracker

How to explain that this territory in the south of Occitania saw its rate of positivity climb to three times the national average? For the Regional Health Agency, proximity to Spain is one of the main reasons. Cross-border, the Catalan country has seen its health situation deteriorate rapidly. The incidence rate having crossed the threshold of 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the Barcelona region has been forced to impose new measures: all bars and restaurants close their doors at 12:30 a.m. and public and private gatherings are limited to 10 people.

SEE ALSO – In the Pyrénées-Orientales, a “race against time»Is committed to vaccinate

An observation shared by Doctor Antoine Ayoub, general practitioner in Perpignan and emergency doctor in a nearby private clinic. In 24 hours on call, he saw two cases of Covid, including one returning from Spain. “We are indeed observing an increase in contamination, although it had been a month since we had seen any», He reports to Figaro, while stressing that each of his sick patients was not vaccinated. He also notes the influx of tourists who come to visit this region steeped in history, walled between mountains and Cathar castles. Multiplied by three during the summer period, the population is a chance for traders even if they are worried. They fear to see them flee the territory, driven by the fear of an epidemic resumption.

Disappointment of tourism professionals

For restaurateurs and in charge of tourism, the prefect’s decision to close establishments at 11 p.m. is a new blow. “We can’t take it anymore, it’s always us who take», People protest at l’Ardoise, a restaurant by the sea in Canet-en-Roussillon. For the manager, the new health restrictions accompanied by the epidemic resumption will put a stop to the start of the season which “had started very very well“. The same despair on the side of the Petit Rest Eau in Argelès-sur-Mer. At the water’s edge, the establishment was impatiently awaiting summer. If the manager has organized so that two services are possible in the evening before having to fold the tables after 11 pm, she fears for the rest of the summer. “Very worried“, she sees “customers leave or cancel their reservations“. These have decreased by 30% for the coming week. “It is always the tourism professionals who pay», Adds to Figaro the Perpignan-Méditerranée tourist office.

Could other additional measures be added? In an interview with Free noon , Prefect Étienne Stoskopf recalls that “the evolution of the epidemic is monitored” for “prevent it from getting out of control“. In the event of an outbreak, new rules could be adopted as gauges for public gatherings. The vaccination campaign is accelerating. “It’s a race against time”For Brigitte Wadih, one of the managers of the vaccine park in Perpignan, which vaccinates at the rate of 1800 injections per day. Health authorities hope to reach young people who, with an incidence rate of 1,691 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, are the most affected by the epidemic resumption. Unvaccinated and more adept at nighttime evenings, the virus circulates better among this segment of the population.

Could other departments follow the Pyrénées-Orientales and impose new restrictions? “We are in the fourth wave. This variant is there, it is in the majority and much more contagious“Jean Castex observed on Wednesday July 21 to TF1 news. A meteoric epidemic resumption, driven by the spread of the delta variant which prompted the President of the Republic to convene a Defense Council earlier. “There is no question of remaining idle», Hammered the Prime Minister. A certain number of provisions will therefore be left to the discretion of the prefects, in the event of local necessity.

In metropolitan France, thirteen departments, including Hérault (273), Alpes-Maritimes (255), Paris (163) and Bouches-du-Rhône (226) exceed the threshold of 200 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Without this increase being felt very little in the intensive care units, even if in the Pyrénées-Orientales, hospital admissions have more than doubled in 10 days. It should be remembered that according to the previous waves, there is always a latency period of two weeks between the increase in contamination and the hospital reflux.

Positive cases in the Pyrénées-Orientales – July 23, 2021 CovidTracker
Patients admitted to intensive care in the Pyrénées-Orientales – July 23, 2021 CovidTracker

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