Covid-19: with the end of the mask, the “spirit of individual responsibility” must take over



This is one of the last visible signs of health measures linked to the Covid crisis which is disappearing. This Monday, May 16, the obligation to wear the mask in public transport is lifted. The measure was announced by the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, on May 11. For Yannick Simonin, virologist at the University of Montpellier, the epidemiological context “lends itself well to this loosening of constraints”. The latest figures show “a fairly clear drop in contaminations (- 20% compared to last week) and for a few days we have fallen below the symbolic milestone of 20,000 hospitalized patients”.

A favorable context, but a call for vigilance

With the lifting of this restriction, it is a “another strategy that is being put in place”observes Yannick Simonin: “The shift from a rule of collective protection to a spirit of individual responsibility. » Result, “People who feel fragile, those at risk, because carriers of comorbidities or immunocompromised, should not hesitate to keep their mask on”.

→ LANDMARKS. End of the mask in transport: where is France compared to its neighbors?

A caution shared by epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik: “People with symptoms or who are contact cases or those who have to make long journeys in transport have every interest in staying protected. Closed places, especially if they concentrate a lot of people, remain places of circulation of the virus. » Hence the importance, for this public health specialist, of still respecting certain barrier gestures, including the essential one of “ventilation”.

The threat of Omicron sub-variants

These warnings are a reminder that the Covid does not, alas, yet belong to the past. “Even though the situation is improving, incidence rates remain high, and there are still uncertainties surrounding Omicron’s subvariants, the famous BA.4 and BA.5”, says Mahmoud Zureik. For the moment in France, they are largely in the minority, “but in Portugal, they represent 30 to 40% of cases”, says Yannick Simonin.

BA.4 and BA.5 could therefore be responsible for an epidemic recovery “more or less marked” in the coming months. “It is not said that, at the start of the school year, the mask does not become compulsory again in some places,points out the researcher, who recalls that for two years the virus has continued to proceed in waves.

→ EXPLANATION. With at least 13 million dead, is Covid-19 the deadliest epidemic in history?

A recovery that the government itself does not exclude. These new variants of Covid-19, if they cause a new wave of contamination, could raise the question “a booster shot in the fall if ever a wave were to emerge”, specified, last week, the Minister of Health.

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