9th wave of Covid-19: towards a return to wearing a mandatory mask?

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We are indeed experiencing a 9th wave of Covid-19, said Mahmoud Zureik, an epidemiologist who confided in Parisian. And we should expect an average of 50,000 cases a day soon. The pace is indeed accelerating in a vertiginous way: we have witnessed, in the last week alone, a 30% increase in the number of cases detected. While the death rate linked to Covid is still falling, the number of hospitalizations linked to the virus has also increased: the increase amounts to 6% in one week, as reported by our colleagues from BFM.

For comparison, we were at 525,527 daily cases recorded on January 20, 2022. However, experts are particularly concerned about this winter and this last wave, because we could very well find ourselves facing a triple winter epidemic. Indeed, bronchiolitis is taking a toll on toddlers like it hasn’t in almost 10 years! Added to that is the not-so-great prospect of the return of the seasonal flu, which health experts are expecting: it is expected to be particularly virulent this year.

Arnaud Robinet, mayor of Reims and president of the French Hospital Federation, spoke on the set of France Info this Sunday, November 27. He wants to obtain, as a councilor, the possibility of imposing the wearing of a mask in the transport of his municipality, as reported by Le Journal du Dimanche. Concerned in the first place as leader of the hospital federation of France, he underlines the urgency of the situation, the risk being always and again to “put the public hospital under tension”.

La France insoumise had raised the possibility of reintegrating non-vaccinated nursing staff into public health services to lighten the burden. What the Minister of Health François Braun opposed, saying that this measure would call into question the management of the epidemic by the executive. The infectiologist Benjamin Davido also advocates a more marked return to wearing a mask: he encourages pedagogy, affirming that the French should be shown the importance of this gesture which was so familiar to us until a short time ago…

These expert reports are all the more alarming as the figures on which the predictions are based are probably understated, due to several factors…

The true number of positive cases is most likely underestimated, and several factors are responsible for this. First, the appearance of a new sub-variant, BQ 1.1, which would be “the ideal candidate” for the propagation of the 9th wave. But we do not know its degree of resistance to vaccines, which makes the predictions of specialists more uncertain.

Then, the biologists’ strike that took place in mid-November and which will be repeated on December 1 also distorts the test statistics. In any case, fewer and fewer people are getting tested, and when they do, it would be more through self-tests than tests carried out by professionals. Self-tests which are therefore not included in the statistics because they are not listed.

But what are the factors that could have contributed to the resurgence of this 9th wave?

Epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik says the situation has never been so dire since March 2021. At issue? Mainly the season. Indeed, we have even seen it in recent years since the start of the pandemic, the virus circulates more in winter. Added to this is a very low recall rate (4th dose) among the population. Remember that this injection is currently intended for people over 60 who received their last dose more than 6 months ago.

Influenza and bronchiolitis also increase the pressure on the healthcare system, which further fuels disaster scenarios. Finally, barrier gestures have been in sharp decline for several months, the French seeming to have forgotten the memories of confinements…