End of confinement in Sydney, 8 deaths in France … update on the coronavirus

New measures, new reports and highlights: an update on the latest developments in the Covid-19 pandemic around the world.

The situation in France

3391 new cases were identified Sunday in France, for 91 new hospitalized patients and 17 admissions in intensive care. The country has counted 8 new deaths in hospital according to figures from Public Health France. In total, France has counted more than 117,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. In addition, in metropolitan France and Corsica, only 18 departments still have an incidence rate greater than 50 this Sunday. The departments where this rate is lower have notably seen the obligation of the mask at school lifted for children.

Sydney emerges from four months of confinement

Sydney residents were emerging from nearly four months of strict containment on Monday, decreed in Australia’s largest city to block the Covid-19 epidemic. In this city of five million inhabitants, containment was decided in the summer to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of the highly contagious coronavirus. It was lifted after 106 days of restrictions, in view of the drop in contamination – 477 cases recorded on Sunday in the state of New South Wales, the most populous in the country – and the advance of vaccination, with more than 70% of the population over 16 years of age fully vaccinated. Some places open to the public, such as bars or games rooms, were to reopen at midnight for vaccinated customers. Hairdressers will reopen their doors on Monday with an already full appointment book.

Since June, shops, schools and businesses have been closed for so-called “non-essential” activities. Travel was limited to five kilometers from the home and it was not possible to visit relatives, play sports, go shopping or attend a funeral. “Few countries have taken such a strict, if not extreme, approach in their management of Covid as Australia,” Tim Soutphommasane, an academic and former Australian commissioner for discrimination, told AFP. Restrictions will last for a few weeks on gatherings and travel abroad, as well as the complete reopening of schools.

Largely spared during the first months of the pandemic thanks to a “zero-Covid” strategy, the closure of its borders and a massive screening policy, Australia suffered a winter wave linked to the spread of the Delta variant, which forced the country’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, to impose lockdown for several months. “This is a great day for our state,” said Dominic Perrottet, recently appointed Conservative Prime Minister of New South Wales. After “100 days of blood, sweat and beer,” he added, “you deserve it.” Perrottet urged customers to treat staff with kindness, fearing tensions over banning unvaccinated people in some facilities. A rebound in contamination is also feared. The Australian Medical Association has said it supports “the gradual opening of the economy and the easing of restrictions”, however “it is essential to observe the impact of each stage on the transmission and the number of cases”. “Otherwise, New South Wales could still see hospitals become completely overwhelmed despite high vaccination rates,” the health body added.

The balance sheet in the world

The pandemic has made at least 4,843,739 deaths worldwide since the end of December 2019, according to a report drawn up on Sunday at 10 a.m. GMT by AFP from official sources.

More than 237.4 million cases of infection have been officially diagnosed since the start of the epidemic. The vast majority of patients recover, but a still poorly evaluated part retains symptoms for weeks or even months.

The United States are the country most bereaved by this epidemic with 713,224 deaths, followed by the Brazil (601,011), India (450,589), Mexico (281,958) and Russia (216,415).

The WHO estimates, taking into account the excess mortality directly and indirectly linked to Covid-19, that the results of the pandemic could be two to three times higher.

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