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New rise in Covid cases in France: What do latest figures show?

The most recent health bulletin shows cases are rising nationwide, although there is - as yet - ‘no signal of concern’

A magnifying glass over the word Covid-19

Santé publique France has said that ‘indicators’ for Covid-19 are increasing nationwide, but that there is no ‘signal of concern’ for the latest strain as yet Pic: Oleksii Synelnykov / Shutterstock

Cases of Covid-19 are rising again in France, which may suggest a new epidemic could be on the horizon, health authority Santé publique France (SPF) has warned in its latest update.

In its bulletin on November 22, SPF warned of a ‘rising trend’ in ‘epidemiological indicators’ across the country.

For example, the incidence rate - typically used to judge how fast the epidemic is spreading - was at 27.96 per 100,000 inhabitants nationally for the week of November 13 to 19. This was a 24% rise compared to the week before.

However, the figures should be taken in context; during the height of the pandemic, the incidence rate was 500 per 100,000 inhabitants. Yet, SPF also warned that its current figures are less reliable than those during the pandemic, as testing rates are far lower. Similarly, its data does not take into account lateral flow tests done in pharmacies.

The highest incidence rates are currently in the east of the country.

  • Bas-Rhin is the worst-affected, with an incidence rate of 111.54 per 100,000 inhabitants (up 34.66% week-on-week)
  • Haut-Rhin: 97.72 (up 22.72%)
  • Moselle: 80.14 (up 27%)
  • Meuse: 70.16 (up 3.30%)
  • Haute-Marne: 55.31 (76.94%)
  • Côte-d’Or: 48.84 (up 73.99%)

Also particularly affected (although at generally lower rates) are:

  • Haute-Savoie: 57.4 (46.09% week-on-week)
  • Alpes-de-Haute-Provence: 57.37 (up 115.92%)

Although rates are relatively low across most of the rest of the country, almost every department has seen a rise in incidence.

As the weather cools, many experts have pointed out that colder temperatures are likely to lead to a ‘reprisal’ of the epidemic to some degree. 

Bruno Lina, a virologist based in Lyon, told BFMTV: “It's likely that there will be a resurgence, because this is directly linked to the fact that climatic conditions favour the circulation of the virus.”

Similarly, there have been several variants emerging over recent weeks, including BA.2.86 (nicknamed Pirola) and its substrain JN.1, which are themselves sub variants of Omicron.

Read more: Covid in France: What are symptoms of the new variant Pirola? 

JN.1 is likely to replace the previous strain EG.5 (Eris) and become the most common variant eventually, the health authority said.

However, SPF was careful to point out that its most recent risk analysis showed “no signal of concern in terms of public health…associated” with this latest strain.

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