Doctors issue warning over increasing number of French patients in COVID-19 intensive care


FILE PHOTO: French anesthesiologist Caroline Tesse works in the intensive care unit (ICU) where a patient is suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at hospital in Cambrai, France, March 25, 2021. REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol

PARIS (Reuters) – The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units in France has reached a new high for this year, according to data from the Ministry of Health on Sunday, as doctors warned that a third wave of infections could soon overwhelm hospitals.

There were 4,872 intensive care patients treated for COVID-19, near a peak in November during the second wave of the virus in France, although below a high of around 7,000 in April of l ‘last year. The number of new infections, however, fell from around 5,600 to 37,014.

A group of 41 hospital doctors in the Paris region wrote an article in Le Journal du Dimanche warning that they may soon have to start choosing between patients for emergency treatment.

Scientists have argued that the government’s partial lockdown measures targeting high-infection areas like Paris are inadequate in the face of rapidly-spreading coronavirus variants.

French President Emmanuel Macron this week defended his decision not to impose a third full lockdown and to keep schools open, but said further restrictions would likely be needed.

The government is also trying to speed up a late vaccination campaign, part of a troubled European effort marred by shortages of AstraZeneca doses that have created tensions with former EU member Britain.

Little European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune said on France 2 television on Sunday that France would receive 2 million doses of a batch of 16 million AstraZeneca vaccines held by Italian authorities amid the EU feud with the pharmaceutical group.

On Sunday, nearly 7.8 million people had received a first dose of vaccine in France, said the Ministry of Health.

It also reported 131 other hospital deaths linked to the virus, bringing the country’s toll, including nursing homes, to nearly 95,000, the eighth in the world.

Report by Gus Trompiz and Gilles Guillaume; edited by Jane Merriman and Philippa Fletcher

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