In Cholet (Maine-et-Loire), the party is over. In the city center, on Place Travot, men in fluorescent clothes are busy removing what remains of decorations. A single chalet is still standing. Solène Martin’s job does not consist in selling liters of mulled wine: this pharmacist is responsible for carrying out PCR tests with “Results in 15 minutes”, promises a garish red poster. “There are no more people than last week. We had 53 people yesterday … We were at 300 a day during the holidays! ” No rush to test, then.
However, the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Pays-de-la-Loire on Monday communicated bad news: the English variant of Covid-19 was detected in three individuals in the vicinity of Cholet. A first for this region which, again according to the ARS, displays a positivity rate of 4.6 (per 100 tests), against a national average of 6.45. No link exists between the first case of the variant detected in France, 150 km away, in Tours, and these new cases. Moreover, on the side of the ARS, we assure him: everything is under control.
The link between the United Kingdom and the south of Maine-et-Loire is a French family settled north of London. On December 20, a couple and their three children cross the Channel by car to join the maternal grandparents, settled in a town near Cholet. “The very next day, the mother developed symptoms”, specifies, by phone, Josselin Vincent, head of health monitoring at the ARS. The same day, she tested positive. The rest of the family is negative.
“Their Christmas reunion has been canceled. The races were brought home ”, sues the ARS employee. A week later, the family is tested again: this time the results are positive for three of them. Unlike the first tests, the results are transmitted by the laboratory to verify the presence or not of the British variant. “They had the reflex to send a copy of the sample to the National Reference Center for Respiratory Infection Viruses.”
“Relatively severe symptoms”
“They have a lot of files to deal with, it’s a bit long”, recognizes Josselin Vincent. “But that does not change much in terms of the measures implemented.” Except that in the meantime, the grandparents also fall ill. The grandmother, a 70-year-old woman, was taken to the Cholet hospital from December 29 to January 5. According to the director of the Cholet hospital center, Pierre Vollot, she “Exhibited relatively severe symptoms”.
Eventually, three of the seven family members tested positive for the British variant. This is not the case with the mother, the first to be detected, because “The viral load was too low”, explains Josselin Vincent. “It is likely that the whole household was a carrier of the English variant. But there is little expansion outside the family home, which does not prevent possible circulation ”, assures the one who expects today a “Cartography” from the National Virus Reference Center to be absolutely sure.
A priori, only one possible flaw: the hospital of Cholet. On instructions from the ARS, 17 employees and three patients were tested to ensure that no cluster emerges. If all three patients are negative, the employee’s result is still awaited. The director of the establishment where 2,200 people work is confident. But another information concerns Pierre Vollot: this Wednesday, 55 patients were hospitalized in the two Covid units of the establishment. “At the height of the epidemic, we were at 70. We were down to around 30. For two or three days, things have started again. “
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