For several weeks, he has fulminated against the massive screening strategy implemented in Mayenne, fearing for the image of his territory. The last "blow" was the classification, this Saturday, by Belgium, of its department in "red" on the list of high-risk destinations.
The president of the community, Olivier Richefou, accuses the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of “stigmatizing” his department by publishing “alarmist figures” on the Covid-19 situation which, according to him, do not reflect “the health reality ”.
Very high incidence rate ...
In his viewfinder is how the different criteria are taken into account to measure the level of the epidemic. If Mayenne is followed very closely, it is in particular because of its incidence rate (the number of cases detected over the past seven days reported to the population). This reached 55 positive tests per 100,000 inhabitants from July 25 to 31, according to the latest data from Public Health France available. This is the highest incidence rate in metropolitan France.
Except that Mayenne is also the French department which, in relation to its population, tests the most. All residents are invited to be screened and 1,920 tests were carried out in 24 hours on July 31, for example, a ratio of 629 tests per 100,000 inhabitants. Here too, this ratio is by far the most important for a French department (we are at 135 per 100,000 inhabitants on average in metropolitan France).
If Mayenne has detected so much, it is because of the review, in June and July, of many "clusters" (foci of infection grouping at least three positive cases). Olivier Richefou also acknowledges to the Parisian that there was a problem at the start but he calls into question, there too, the health authorities. "They were not able to trace all the contact cases at the start, in particular because the clusters were community-based, in the slaughterhouses," he says.
… Positive rate down
Logically, the positivity rate (the number of positive cases compared to the total number of tests over 24 hours) in Mayenne is very low today: 0.4%, against 1.5% in France. Over the seven rolling days, we reached 1.4%, against 1.5% nationwide. Mid-July, Mayenne was at 5%.
"The more you screen, the more negative tests you find, so the more you lower the positivity rate, which also makes it possible to break the chain of transmission", supports the Parisian Benjamin Davido, infectious disease specialist at the Poincaré hospital (Garches) .
What makes Olivier Richefou say that "it is a thermometer problem". “We are not applying the right rules. We must correlate the incidence rate according to the number of tests actually carried out, ”he is angry.
By continuing to publish alarmist figures, without putting into perspective and decorrelated from the results of other departments, the @ ars_pdl continues to stigmatize @lamayenne even more in the eyes of the French and our European neighbors. My press release⤵️ @ Prefet53 # Covid_19 pic.twitter.com/QspnHgh10X- Olivier Richefou (@olivierrichefou) August 3, 2020
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Be careful, however. Fifteen clusters in Mayenne are still "under investigation" as of July 31, according to the latest weekly epidemiological update from Public Health France. It is much more than in each of the other French departments. In addition, with 17 people hospitalized on August 3 (including 3 in intensive care), the curve has gone up a little in recent days even if we remain very far from the level reached in April (nearly 100 hospitalized patients).
"Mayenne is the right student"
The authorities fear that one of these outbreaks will "escape" them if a positive case were to infect many individuals without our noticing it, hence the strategy of screening (and isolating if the result is positive) a large part of the population. "If we want to break the dynamics of the epidemic, we must test all patients, all contacts. And, afterwards, test more widely, ”approved this Tuesday on LCI the head of the infectious diseases department at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital, Eric Caumes.
Still, if the other departments screened their inhabitants as much, they would “very likely” have an incidence rate close to that in Mayenne, according to infectious disease specialist Benjamin Davido. And this, in particular because of the large number of infected but asymptomatic people, and who will therefore not be screened unless they are considered to be contact cases of a patient. "Mayenne is the good student, they had the merit of testing massively", summarizes the infectious disease specialist.
Olivier Richefou, faced with a loss of attractiveness of his department and while many Mayennais testify to difficulties when making vacation reservations, already intends to ask for "compensation" from the State. Not by launching any procedure but rather, he imagines, asking him to "launch a major communication campaign to praise Mayenne after the stigmata we have suffered".