The number of emergency visits increased by 52% during the week of December 19 to 25. The peak of contaminations has not yet been reached.
Traveling to Annecy (Haute-Savoie) this Wednesday, the Minister of Health François Braun did not hide his concern. The flu epidemic in France is currently characterized by “an explosion of cases, with in particular serious cases which mean that the intensive care units, in a global way, are saturated”, underlined the minister.
A finding supported by the latest epidemiological bulletin unveiled today by Public Health France, relating to the evolution of the epidemic during the week of December 19 to 25. While the entire metropolitan territory as well as Mayotte, Réunion, Guadeloupe and Martinique are in the epidemic phase, the agency notes a “continued increase in influenza indicators in all age groups” .
“Very high” level of activity in the city and in the hospital
Public Health France first emphasizes a “very high level of activity in city medicine and in hospitals, particularly among 15-64 year olds”. The incidence rate of consultations for flu syndrome amounted last week to 460 per 100,000 inhabitants, an increase of 29% over seven days. As for SOS Doctors consultations, those relating to flu syndromes are still on the rise, now reaching 25.4%.
“The activity in city medicine for flu syndrome remained at a very high level of intensity for all ages combined in week 51”, underlines Public Health France.
But it is at the hospital, where the emergency services are already overwhelmed, that the dynamic is the most worrying. The number of visits to the emergency room for flu-like illnesses increased by 52%. But it is hospitalizations after going to the emergency room that are experiencing the greatest increase, since they have almost doubled.
Between December 19 and 25, 2,738 French people were hospitalized for flu-like illnesses, an increase of 75% compared to the previous week. Finally, in ambulatory medicine as in hospitals, the proportion of patients positive for influenza is still increasing. Again, Public Health France evokes a “very high level of intensity”.
193 people in intensive care since October
Although mild in most cases, the flu has sent nearly 200 French people to intensive care since the beginning of October. A total of 193 people have been admitted to intensive care since the start of the flu season. “16 were between 0 and 4 years old, 16 between 5 and 14 years old, 79 were between 15 and 64 years old and 80 were 65 years old or older”, indicates Public Health France.
The rate of deaths also appears to be accelerating. Of the 10 deaths reported since early October, seven have taken place in the past three weeks. “6 in people aged 65 or over, 2 in people aged 15 to 64 and 2 in children aged 5 to 14”, reveals Public Health France.
Finally, on the side of the 25,000 medico-social establishments listed in France, 98 cases of episodes of grouped cases of acute respiratory infection attributed to influenza have been reported. But here again, an acceleration of contamination is emerging in recent weeks.
An early flu season
Some regions are more affected than others by this explosion of the flu epidemic. Public Health France highlights Hauts-de-France, Île-de-France, Normandy and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region among the most affected territories.
Compared to previous waves of influenza, the epidemic episode which is raging this year on French territory is characterized by its precocity. Since 2017, this is the first time that such a level of incidence of consultations for flu-like illnesses has been reached so early. But the current level of consultations has not yet reached the record for the 2018-2019 season.
In the midst of a strike by liberal doctors, these latest figures raise fears of the worst for the French hospital system. The Minister of Health François Braun spoke on Wednesday of “a week of all dangers”.
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