The effectiveness of partial containment remains to be proven
The 900,000 inhabitants of the urban area of Nice, which stretches from Théoule-sur-Mer to Menton along the coast of the Alpes-Maritimes, will experiment with an unprecedented measure in metropolitan France: confinement “Localized and partial” to fight against the spread of Covid-19 in the department most affected in France by the epidemic. Announced on Monday February 22, this new restriction will be applied for the next two weekends, from Friday 6 p.m. to Monday 6 a.m. “The hour is no longer for pedagogy, the hour is for responsibility”, insisted Bernard Gonzalez, the prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes, presenting a whole battery of decisions which “Are required” for at least two weeks, after a phase of consultation with local elected officials.
Like Christian Estrosi, LR mayor of Nice, some demanded this targeted confinement, which spares the inhabitants of the valleys of the Nice hinterland. It concerns a strip of 75 kilometers, the most densely populated and most attractive part of the department. The aim is also to discourage the arrival of tourists on the Côte d’Azur. “We must absolutely avoid the regroupings that we are currently experiencing”, added the senior official.
To support his point, Bernard Gonzalez was accompanied by a new member of the scientific council, Professor Olivier Guérin, head of the geriatrics pole of the CHU de Nice. The latter defended a system that has already been mentioned, without ever having been put in place outside of overseas territories. “We are the territory of metropolitan France where the circulation of the virus and the epidemic pressure are the strongest”, he explained.
He wants to believe that this partial confinement, accompanied by other restrictions, can help reduce this pressure. While remaining careful. “We will see the impact of these measures, they may have to be readjusted”, he continued.
Others are more critical, and not only among elected officials who opposed this hypothesis. “It’s a half-measure that won’t have any particular effect, says Véronique Mondain, infectious disease specialist at the CHU de Nice. It is not because we confine ourselves on Saturday and Sunday that we will stop the circulation of the virus. “
Epidemiologist Catherine Hill shares this observation : “It doesn’t sound very serious. We know that confinement is a palliative. Each time we deconfine, the circulation of the virus restarts. The solution remains to test massively. “ Without being so severe, Mircea Sofonea, lecturer in epidemiology at the University of Montpellier, remains measured as to the effectiveness of this “first”. “From a theoretical point of view, it’s not far-fetched, our team worked on it last year, he recalls. But it’s fragile. “
For the academic, everything depends on the goal pursued. ” If one is optimistic and enforced firmly, a two-day-a-week lockdown may work to contain a rise in the epidemic and stay on a ridge line, he specifies. But if we want to restore low circulation of the virus and return to a “comfortable” level over the long term, that may not be enough. Two weeks to have an effect is a minimum. “
Another announcement from the prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes is more unanimous: the delivery of 4,500 additional doses of Pfizer vaccines, followed by “Thousands” AstraZeneca vials to speed up the vaccination campaign and broaden the target to 50-65 year olds suffering from co-morbidities. “It is absolutely necessary that everyone can be vaccinated, insists Véronique Mondain. It’s the only way we have to get out of it. “