Covid: Isolation, screening of contact cases… Here is what will change on February 1
This 1er February will mark the end of several health measures put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular compulsory isolation in the event of a positive test or screening when one is in contact.
Three years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government announces the end of exceptional health measures put in place to fight the epidemic.
“These developments are taking place in a favorable epidemic contextmarked by very low viral circulation in mainland France and overseas, justifies the government’s press release. They are also part of the continuity of similar strategies observed in all European countries.
In fact, the lights are currently green: last week, the Covid epidemic continued to decline with a drop in virological and hospital indicators on national territory and the Statistics Department (DREES) observed a number of screening tests for Covid-19 at its “lowest level since early August 2020”.
As of January 27, there were fewer than 5,000 cases in 24 hours and the effective R was well below 1 (0.6). “This testifies to a favorable epidemiological situation, in all age groups and throughout the territory”, supported the Ministry of Health, during a press brief this Monday, January 30.
The end of isolation and testing for contact cases
So far in case of positive test for Covidthe procedure was to self-isolate for 5 days (provided you test negative and no longer have symptoms by 5e day) and to declare their contact cases so that they can be tested in turn, two days after being identified.
From February 1, 2023and in accordance with the recommendations of the High Council for Public Health (HCSP), this systematic isolation in the event of a positive test for Covid-19 as well as the performance of a screening test for asymptomatic contact cases will no longer be required, announced the Ministry of Health.
On the other hand, “As with any illness with an acute respiratory infection, it remains strongly recommended for people who test positive for Covid-19, as well as people who have been exposed to a contagious person and are likely to develop the disease, to respect barrier gestures, to be tested and to avoid contact with fragile people.”
To note : Covid screening remains covered by Health Insurance.
The end of “Contact Covid” and “Covid” sick leave. This health insurance service, which allowed the identification and care of people sick with Covid-19 and contact cases, will also be stopped at 1er february. This stoppage implies de facto the end of the derogatory system for covering sick leave linked to Covid-19. This means that “Covid” sick leave will now follow the same rules as classic sick leave. “In concrete terms, the infected person must contact their doctor if they want to stop working because they feel too tired or are unable to work due to their symptoms and the waiting period. will apply as for any usual stop”, said the Ministry of Health.
To note : telework remains recommended in the event of a positive test. Contaminated people who cannot work can therefore be arrested via their doctor if the latter deems it necessary.
And if you are in your workplace in the presence of fragile people? There goes “Everyone’s responsibility, in this case, you wear a mask, especially since you are not supposed to know if your colleague is fragile or not. So if I cough, I have a runny nose. .. I put on a mask in my workplace”.
The “vulnerable employees” system is extended. This derogatory device allows people at risk of a serious form and likely to be very exposed to the virus in their workplace, and who cannot telecommute. A hundred people in France benefit from it according to the Ministry of Health, it will be extended “for at least one month”, while waiting to “implement individualized support in conjunction with patient associations.” The idea is to be offered permanent situations.
The end of “Covid Contact” also implies the suspension of contact tracing possibilities by Health Insurance to search for contact cases in the entourage of people positive for Covid-19. Contact cases will therefore no longer receive SMS from Health Insurance.
“However, infected people remain invited to prevent their contacts, as they would do with other pathologies and in particular if they have met fragile people”, again underlined the Ministry of Health.
To note : the Tous Anti Covid application remains valid, only to keep the vaccination and negative test certificates, necessary for the countries still requesting it, as well as the key figures will remain available.
Finally, the use of the information system “SI-DEP“, making it possible to count positive cases will be maintained until June 30, 2023 but “will be conditioned on the prior collection of the consent of the persons concerned, the sharing of their personal data.
“All positive cases will be entered in SI-DEP in order to maintain follow-up but in the event of non-consent, the data will be anonymized”, explained the Ministry of Health.
What if the epidemic starts again?
As France puts an end to health measures, the World Health Organization decides to maintain its maximum level of alert on the Covid-19 pandemic. “My message is clear: do not underestimate this virus, it has surprised us and will continue to surprise us and it will continue to kill, unless we do more to provide the means of health to the people who need it and to fight misinformation worldwide”WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said following a meeting of experts on Friday, January 27.
“The WHO tells us to monitor and maintain good practices, this is precisely what France will continue to do, the monitoring of indicators will persist and the tests will remain accessible on the territory”commented during the brief off, the Ministry of Health.
Finally, the evolution lies in the fact that the government wishes integrate the management of Covid with that of other winter pathologies, both to get out of the “Covid exception” but also and above all to benefit from what we have learned from the pandemic to other winter diseases, namely the flu, gastro and bronchiolitis. “These changes are ultimately intended to put in place a comprehensive strategy to combat acute winter respiratory infections (Covid-19, flu, bronchiolitis), which will be fully deployed for the next 2023-2024 season.”
“Covid joins acute respiratory infections. Maintaining barrier gestures or vaccination remain essential, for Covid as for other winter pathologies.”
An evolution that had already begun several months ago, when the Minister of Health mentioned the “triple epidemic”, when it was proposed to vaccinate against the flu and against Covid on the same day, or when the French were encouraged to wear the mask to protect against all respiratory viruses.
Wearing a mask is still recommended in closed, poorly ventilated places, in particular public transport, in medico-social establishments and in the event of symptoms.
In addition, the Ministry of Health assures that the variants will continue to be monitored via sequencing, “there is no change on this point”.
- Press brief from the Directorate General for Health, 30 January 2023.
- Press release, Fight against the Covid-19 epidemic: entry into force of several legislative changes from January 31, 2023