No restrictions against Covid-19 at school for the start of the new school year: what scientists think

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According to specialists, this is a political decision made in a context of weariness of the population and in the face of a moderate circulation of the virus. However, they warn of a possible epidemic rebound in the fall.

A week before the start of the school year, the seventh epidemic wave of Covid-19 is ending in France. The Ministry of National Education and the unions have decided that the health protocol in schools will be at the “base” level at the beginning of the school year, that is, without health restriction measures.

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However, the Minister of Health, François Braun, indicated at the same time that it is most likely that there will be “an eighth wave” of Covid-19 in the fall, and specified that he still did not know “its magnitude”. A situation that may seem paradoxical.

A risk of epidemic rebound

Specialists share this observation of a risk of epidemic outbreak in a few weeks. “If the fall is cold and rainy and that is why we find ourselves more confined, there will be an increase in cases,” Michèle Legeas, professor at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health, confides to

“I imagine that there will be another spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths after the start of the school year, but since that is no longer in the headlines, the government will hide in the sand…”, criticizes Fabienne El-Khoury for her part, Doctor in Public Health.

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The risk of a new wave depends above all on the possible appearance of a new variant. “However, as soon as we bring people together there are risks, especially in closed places and with this contagious virus. So the start of the school year is a risk, but not necessarily more so than the summer holidays,” he explains to Epidemiologist Catherine Hill.

“The protocol can be understood politically”

How to explain the decision of the Ministry of National Education for this beginning of the school year? “Given the current traffic and the seriousness of the epidemic among children, that does not seem inappropriate to me,” agrees Michèle Legeas, who nevertheless regrets that the health protocol in schools does not mention fragile children, who are more vulnerable to the virus.

“In terms of benefits-risks for society, the protocol can be understood politically,” he continues.

After two returns to school under the sign of the pandemic, hypervigilance seems to have given way to boredom among a large part of the French.

“Nobody, including the authorities, doesn’t care,” says Catherine Hill.

“I think the government has made a political choice to look the other way (…). It is difficult to ask people for binding measures at this time, especially since the risk is very low among vaccinated people”, Fabienne El-Khoury abounds in the same sense, however, considering that the protocol “is not in line with the epidemic situation.

Sending an “educational” political message

The latter especially regrets the absence of the “massive effort to purify the air” for the start of the school year. “In addition, you must continue to insist on protective gestures such as washing your hands and sneezing or coughing in the crook of your elbow, which will limit Covid-19 but also other epidemics,” explains Fabienne El-Khoury.

An opinion shared by Michèle Legeas, who believes that we should take advantage of this epidemic truce to pass on an “educational” political message that explains the importance of barrier gestures and also that we may have to postpone measures at some point to “avoid coming” . against the opposition of the population.

Be reactive as with “milk on fire”

According to her, the challenge is above all to be able to increase the level of restrictive measures if the epidemic situation requires it. “You have to have reactivity capacity to adjust very quickly as soon as a certain number of indicators rise and have a global impact on the population,” explains the professor of public health.

“It’s like milk on the fire: you must not let go of your gaze,” he adds.

According to Catherine Hill, given the current epidemic situation, the goal remains to continue vaccinating unvaccinated people, especially among the elderly, and then to vaccinate against Omicron with the next more specific vaccines. “We have not left the shelter: the virus continues to send people to the hospital (…). The situation is not very good but not very bad either”, concludes the epidemiologist.

Author: salome oaks
Source: BFM TV

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