Covid-19: barrier gestures to counter the epidemic recovery

For the ninth time, Tuesday, November 9, Emmanuel Macron will speak during a presidential address dedicated to the Covid-19 epidemic. Announced at the end of last week by the government spokesperson, Gabriel Attal, this speech is awaited by millions of French people, while the virus continues its slow progression through the territory.

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Although timid, the epidemic rebound is becoming clearer with an incidence rate never reached for months: 62 per 100,000 inhabitants, or more than 7,000 new daily cases and 6,709 people hospitalized. To fight against the epidemic, Prime Minister Jean Castex already called on November 5 for the “General mobilization” of people eligible for the booster dose. But with the return of the cold and indoor activities, it is the application of barrier gestures, long the only ramparts against the virus, that captures the attention of scientists.

An effective way to fight Covid-19

Quickly adopted in March 2020, easily forgotten as the epidemic evolves, the barrier gestures still remain “One of the most effective means to fight against Covid-19”, explains Djillali Annane, head of the intensive care unit at Raymond Poincaré hospital. “If we prevent contact, by wearing a mask, hand hygiene, physical distancing, even isolation in the event of contamination, we radically cut transmission”, reminds the caregiver.

However, after two years of health restrictions, the strict application of these protective measures, despite significant vaccination coverage, suffers from declining acceptability. “When the virus circulates less, people believe that barrier gestures are no longer important or beneficial. They want to get back to their former life, and loosening up eventually causes a rebound, as is the case today. It is this circle that we have to break ”, analysis Romy Sauvayre, lecturer in sociology at Clermont Auvergne University and researcher at CNRS.

Complementarity of measures

After a break in the summer, with a weak circulation of the virus and the increase in the vaccination rate, Jocelyn Raude, lecturer in health psychology at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health (EHESP), calls again to vigilance. “We oversold the vaccine’s ability to limit transmission of the virus to the point of obscuring other forms of protection. Remobilization around barrier gestures must go through educational work around the complementarity of measures ”, explains the researcher.

→ CONTEXT. Covid-19: France between hope and vigilance in the face of a fifth wave

“Without barrier gestures, we cannot fight the epidemic”, supports Djillali Annane, who sees an increase in the number of elderly and fragile people in his intensive care unit. “Applying barrier gestures is useful against the Covid but also against the flu and bronchiolitis epidemics, which increase the strain on the hospital and affect the management of the crisis”, also emphasizes the resuscitator.

Pandemic fatigue

Despite a relaxation in recent months, Jocelyn Raude welcomes the ability of the French to adapt and adhere to the recommendations. “Since the start of the health crisis, we have seen that quite naturally the population has opted for the most strategic choice, to protect themselves even if it means restricting their freedoms a little in order to get better and faster”. On the other hand, if the French are rather good pupils on a European scale, “pandemic fatigue” should not be neglected.

→ READ. Covid-19: why we must maintain barrier gestures

“After two years of living with Covid-19, there is a form of fed up that comes in part from a lack of clarity in the speeches, warns the EHESP researcher. The proportion of the population that reacts positively and adheres to the measures is reduced with each outbreak of the epidemic. “


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