The city of Dunkirk in northern France is facing an outbreak of Covid-19 cases. There are 900 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, 18 times the alert level of French territory.
Numbers have skyrocketed in recent weeks, with the UK variant being released and after underground parties during the city’s traditional carnival. Residents await the announcement of new restrictive measures for the French region after the visit of Minister of Health Olivier Véran, this Wednesday (24).
The traditional Dunkirk carnival celebrations were officially canceled in 2021 due to the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. The ban, however, did not prevent clandestine parties from standing in apartments and other private places throughout February.
For many, the celebrations are the reason for the sudden increase in cases. The city records 900 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, against a national average of 105. All ICU beds are already occupied.
“There is certainly a link between this desire to experience carnival, which I fully understand, with this increase in the incidence of the virus in Dunkirk”, said Patrick Goldstein, head of the emergency department at the CHRU hospital in Lille , on the local television channel France3.
Facing the Channel, the city suffers from another aggravating factor: its proximity to the United Kingdom. The British strain of coronavirus, which is more contagious and has a longer infection, is already the majority among positive cases in the port city, accounting for 72% of patients.
Faced with the worsening situation, Dunkirk is awaiting the announcement of new local restrictions after the visit of the Minister of Health on Wednesday. In Nice, there will be a partial lockdown over the next two weekends to slow the transmission of the virus.
The inhabitants of Dunkirk are already taking renovation for granted. “What are we waiting for? We are waiting for two weekends which can be difficult, ”said a resident. “I think because of the hospitals, yes, we still have to be very careful and because of all the patients who are hospitalized.”
In downtown stores, the threat of weekend closures takes smiles from workers’ faces. “This is not good news, since Saturday is the most important day of the sales. Even more since the curfew [às 18h], since customers cannot come after work, ”laments a saleswoman.
Other residents can no longer take restrictive measures and report non-compliance with the rules.
“We’ve had enough,” said a young woman. “It’s ridiculous. It’s been a year. We won’t respect that. We will leave with masks, obviously, but we will leave anyway.”
For the French government, the country’s health situation is deteriorating despite the vaccination campaign, and more than ten regions are on alert.
Over the past seven days, 140,000 new cases have been recorded in the country, almost 10% more than the previous week. The number of hospitalized patients is stable at a high level, there are 25 thousand patients.
Government spokesman Gabriel Attal on Wednesday urged the population to maintain all possible efforts to avoid a third national lockdown. The worsening health situation “requires rapid and strong action to face the imminent risks”, he stressed.
To date, more than 85,000 people have died from the coronavirus pandemic in France.