Covid-19: French mental health ‘deteriorating’ amid lockdown, minister says

·2-min read

French Health Minister Olivier Véran said Thursday that the mental health of people in France was deteriorating during the second Covid-19 lockdown due to anxiety and uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Answer a few questions to join Europe Talks and debate with another European

The French health minister began his weekly press conference with a sombre assessment of how the virus – and two ensuing lockdowns – had taken a toll on people's mental wellbeing.

"The mental health of the French significantly deteriorated between late September and early November," he said.

"A consequent increase in depressive syndromes" has been observed in recent weeks, "for all socio-demographic profiles", the minister continued. "It seems to be particularly pronounced among people in financial difficulty, 18-24-year-olds and, those suffering from psychiatric disorders."

Véran confirmed comments made on Tuesday by Jérôme Salomon, the country’s top public health official, who spoke of "a significant increase in depressive symptoms".

"The psychological impact of the pandemic, of the lockdown is real," the health minister continued, who also spoke of a "significant increase in anxiety" in France "since the end of August".

Véran acknowledged that "the constraints imposed" on the French by the lockdown "were not insignificant and not without consequences". He stressed that the goverment had not "neglected this (psychological) dimension of the health crisis".

Hospitalisations decrease for third consecutive day

There were signs, however, that the country's lockdown was working with the latest figures showing the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital having decreased for the third consecutive day, along with the number of patients in intensive care, Salomon reported.

On Thursday, France had 32,345 coronavirus hospitalisations of which 4,653 were in intensive care. On Wednesday, there were 32,842 in hospital of which 4,775 were in intensive care.

Since the start of the pandemic, 2,086,288 people in France have been infected with the virus, making the country the fourth worst in the world for infections behind the United States, India and Brazil.

The death toll from Covid-19 in France now stands at 47,127. The country reported 21,150 new cases of the virus in the last 24 hours.

President Emmanuel Macron has said the number of daily cases must fall below 5,000 before the government can start significantly easing its latest restrictions.

France’s second Covid-19 lockdown, dubbed the réconfinement, will end on December 1. Macron will address the nation next week about the pandemic and the evolving restrictions.

France will win its battle against the coronavirus but it is a struggle which will take time, Véran warned.

"The virus circulates less than before the lockdown. We must not let down our efforts... The lockdown is not over," he added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)