Coronavirus: what is stage 2 and stage 3?

Three stages of Coronavirus have been identified by expert doctors.Stage 1: slowing down the introduction of the virus Stage 2: stem the spread of the virus Stage 3: the epidemic stage.The coronavirus epidemic went from stage 1 to stage 2 on February 28 and government spokesperson Sibeth NDiaye fears ” it will be difficult to escape the epidemic phase “, also known as stage 3, as she declared it on France Info on March 3.


  • Epidemic internships
  • Stage 1
  • Stage 2
  • Stage 3
  • Stage 4
  • Stage 3 trigger
  • How long is it?
  • What are the measures at stage 3?

Coronavirus: what is stage 2 and stage 3?

Stage 1: slowing down the introduction of the virus

Stage 1 consists of curbing the introduction of the virus into the country. During this phase, an  early detection of the first cases arriving on the territory is implemented, with the implementation of measures such as health control at the borders, medical management of cases and their contacts, the establishment barrier measures. Stage 1 is not applicable if the outbreak is on the national territory.

The Ministry of Health recalls the measures taken at this stage:

  • Screen suspect patients and manage them;
  • Take charge of people who have been in contact with them and assess the risks;
  • Protect caregivers;
  • Alert the Regional Health Agency;
  • Build up stocks of health products;
  • Set up information platforms;
  • Check the health of travelersin the main places of travel: ports, airports, etc.

Stage 2: stem the spread of the virus

This stage corresponds to the appearance of outbreaks in different places of the territory with groups of patients, called clusters.France was in stage 2 of the coronavirus epidemic from March 6, 2020. It consisted in slowing the spread of the virus on the territory with the implementation of barrier measures  (class closings for example, cancellation of large gatherings, visits suspended in establishments for the elderly …). At this stage, slowing the spread of the virus was intended to save the time necessary to ramp up the health system or prepare a vaccine .

Measures taken at this stage:

  • Closure of educational establishments;
  • Limitation of travel, teleworking…;
  • Cancellation of public demonstrations by more than 5,000 people;
  • Quarantined if there is a risk of exposure to the virus.

Stage 3: the epidemic stage

In stage 3, the virus circulates throughout the territory. The objective is to mitigate the effects of the epidemic wave . It is the rapid increase in the number of cases that signals the start of the epidemic wave. Stage 3 marks the end of individual surveillance of cases by the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance . It is then a question of limiting the contagion by barrier measures , of reducing the load on the health system, of limiting the absenteeism at work , of reinforcing the capacity of health response.

Measures taken at this stage:

  • Collective mobilization of health professionals (city doctors, health establishments, medico-social establishments);
  • Traffic restrictions (train line closures, incentives to use private transport, etc.);
  • Protection of fragile populations;
  • Management of non-serious patients on an outpatient basis and patients with signs of severity in healthcare establishments;
  • Ensure the educational continuity of students, partial unemployment…

What measures are applied in case of stage 3?

The barrier measures applied at stage 3 are almost similar to those at stage 2, even reduced for certain points as the virus is now actively circulating on the territory. 

  • France has decided to close crèches and educational establishments from March 16, 2020, just before announcing stage 3 on March 14, until further notice. Closing schools can help mitigate the impact of a pandemic. According to an INSERM * study on real situations, school holidays during an epidemic lead to a reduction of about a quarter in the incidence of seasonal flu in young people.
  • closure of certain public places : the Prime Minister clarified on March 14 that from midnight restaurants , cafes, cinemas, nightclubs and shops were closed . Food stores and markets, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, tobacco and press offices remain open.
  • restriction of visits to collective accommodation establishments: all visits by outside persons are suspended in accommodation establishments for dependent elderly people ( EHPAD ) and long-term care units (USLD) in France from 12 March .
  • Avoid gathering as much as possible, limit friendly and family gatherings, use public transport only to go to work (if it is not possible to do it at home), to do essential shopping and to vote. 
  • closures of structures welcoming minors
  • encouraging the public to use individual means of transport 
  • possible suspension of certain public transport (not yet decided in France)
  • call for the implementation of distance health protection measures; working remotely, limiting meetings and travel, respecting a distance of one meter between people … 
  • implementation of measures to limit human-to-human contamination: wearing masks, canceling gatherings of more than 100 people at the decision of the Prime Minister .. 

Stage 4

In stage 4, we go back below the epidemic threshold defined by the InVS:  return to a normal situation , evaluation of the consequences of the pandemic wave, feedback from experience of crisis management, preparation for a possible new wave. At this stage, the final assessment is not known with certainty. Only mortality statistics, compiled from death certificates, will make it possible to assess the excess mortality linked to the virus.

by Abdullah Sam
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