At the national level, it must be noted that messages continue to be spread in a scattered manner. All categories of leaders and representatives have been expressing themselves on national media, starting from President Macron on July 14, and the new Prime Minister Jean Castex, in his general policy speech on July 15, to the Minister of Health and the Director General of Health. On the medical side, the Scientific Council seems to have stepped back, but its president, Jean-François Delfraissy, continues to speak in the press and on television. As such, it is not clear whether his words have any institutional value or whether he is acting as a whistle-blower.
This lack of clarity fuels uncertainty and concern and could prove very problematic in the event of a strong resurgence of the epidemic. A new crisis situation would probably be easier to manage if communication was clearly channeled through two main sources: a single political issuer, and an independent but clearly mandated scientific issuer. The latter would be the equivalent of a "Chief Medical Officer", who would have no administrative responsibility but would be the reference point for reliable information for the public, as well as political leaders.
How prepared is the health system for the pandemic at this moment?
Many essential measures have been implemented and the system is prepared to act, whether through the ability to test, to track the chains of contamination or to increase hospital capacity. However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to whether the system will be able to react quickly enough, or whether it will manage to increase its capacity or to identify the weaknesses in its response. This is the case, for example, with the issue of tests. Many warning signals are coming up about the saturation of certain test centres and the length of time it takes to obtain results, as has echoed Professor Delfraissy. As much as the coordination of the system is crucial, it is the transparency of the information on the performance of the health control instruments that will make it possible to inform, reassure and mobilize all the players in the fight against the pandemic.
Another crucial point on which an informed and transparent debate is essential, is that of the control and monitoring systems implemented at airports. The pandemic is more global than ever and the question of border controls is essential. At this stage, neither the possible legal framework nor the measures actually put in place have been communicated clearly, and the public authorities do not seem to have a clear strategy. Between warning signals launched in the media and on social networks, and official communications intended to reassure, there is not yet a coherent mechanism for information and debate for both decision-makers and citizens.
Is the decision to make masks obligatory in public places a turning point in the management of the pandemic?
Yes, this decision appears to be a turning point. That is not so much due to the masks themselves, but more so due to how new actors have imposed themselves in the debate, from the medical world, to the civil society and social media.