Minister of Health Olivier Véran said in Nice on Thursday, February 17, that mid-March is now the most likely time for a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, rather than at the end of the month or the first week in April.

France holds the first round of presidential elections on April 10 and the second round run-off two weeks later.

The minister said that in order for rules to be relaxed or removed the circulation of the coronavirus must be “very weak” and hospitals must have resumed “normal functioning,’ without the cancellation of planned operations.

The indicators in the neighbouring Alpes-Maritimes are generally encouraging. The benchmark incidence rate of cases per 100,000 has fallen from a peak of 4,292 on January 21 to 1,165 on February 13.

However, on February 16 the hospitals were still very busy with coronavirus-related cases, with 609 people hospitalised and 70 in intensive care.

FILE PHOTO: Olivier Véran