New measures, new reports and highlights: an update on the latest developments in the Covid-19 pandemic around the world.
The situation in France
The average number of positive cases for Covid-19, calculated over a week, continues to increase in France, according to figures published on Sunday by the health authorities.
The number of new cases identified is 81,283. The seven-day daily average, which smoothes the daily jolts, is up: it stands at 89,002 against 86,022 on Saturday and 65,251 a week ago.
At the same time, the number of people hospitalized for Covid-19 continues to decrease over a week, and the pressure continues to ease a little in the intensive care units.
France has considerably eased health measures, and now anyone can access cinemas, theaters, restaurants… without justifying a vaccination pass. The mask is also no longer compulsory in shops, schools and places of culture and leisure. The French Minister of Health Olivier Véran recently estimated, based on projections from the Pasteur Institute, that the current rebound should not last beyond the end of March and would not overload hospitals.
Lockdown in China
China announced on Sunday a tightening of containment measures in the northeast of the country after an outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic, at a time when the metropolis of Shenzhen (south) is preparing to lift its own. The Asian country reported 4,053 new cases of Covid on Sunday. Two-thirds were identified in Jilin, a province bordering North Korea and Russia. To stem the spread of the virus, the eponymous city of Jilin will impose strict confinement on its approximately 4.5 million inhabitants, the town hall announced. From Monday midnight (Sunday 4:00 p.m. GMT) and for a period of three days, the inhabitants of the metropolis will not be able to leave their home or residence.
China, where the coronavirus was first detected at the end of 2019, had managed to largely stem the epidemic by resorting to strict containment measures from the start of 2020, but the Omicron strain has given rise in recent months to many homes across the country. Last Sunday, the technological metropolis of Shenzhen, located at the gates of Hong Kong, thus confined its 17.5 million inhabitants. The southern city, which brings together thousands of factories of big names in technology, has however partially lifted certain restrictions since Friday. Public transport will be able to fully resume from Monday, as well as administrations and part of economic activity, local health authorities announced on Sunday. Non-essential businesses will however remain closed and the Futian business district will remain subject to strict anti-Covid measures.
The lifting of part of the restrictions in Shenzhen nevertheless illustrates the authorities’ concern for economic activity, after two years of zero Covid strategy. It consists of doing everything (confinements, quarantines, contact tracing, border screening) to prevent the appearance of new cases. For its part, the metropolis of Changchun (northeast), placed in confinement at the beginning of the month, announced on Saturday evening that it would tighten its measures for three days. From now on, only medical personnel and people in connection with the epidemic are authorized to go out.
Since the start of the containment on March 11, the 9 million inhabitants of Changchun could still go out once every two days to buy food. These measures come as China recorded its first two deaths from Covid-19 on Saturday in more than a year. Tens of millions of people are currently in lockdown across the country and authorities are scrambling to free up hospital beds, fearing the outbreak could put the healthcare system under great strain. The city of Tangshan (north), the base of the steel industry in China, also banned traffic for 24 hours on Sunday, in order to stem the spread of the virus and to screen its 7.7 million inhabitants.
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