Flu, Covid, bronchiolitis… Why hospitals are particularly concerned about this winter season

While hospital services are understaffed and struggling to recruit, this triple epidemic is “a real danger for the winter”.

“The flu is coming, the Covid is rising, the hospitals are already saturated”, wrote Rémi Salomon on Tuesday, Chairman of the AP-HP Medical Commission. Several winter diseases are indeed currently on the rise, while hospitals have been sounding the alarm for several months about the lack of staff in their departments.

However, with “the bronchiolitis which is starting again a little after the holidays, the Covid which is always present, and the flu, the emergency services will be extremely solicited”, explains Alain Ducardonnet, health consultant for BFMTV.

“This triple epidemic is becoming a real danger for the winter.”

Beds closed and understaffed

For several months now, hospitals have been warning about the closure of beds due to lack of staff in their departments and the difficulty of recruiting new people.

In a message sent Monday to the directors and heads of departments of the Hôpitaux de Paris, the director general Nicolas Revel and Rémi Salomon write that “the adult emergency reception services of the AP-HP have been experiencing difficulties for several days” at find beds “downstream”, which results in the use of a “very high” number of stretchers.

For Rémi Salomon, “too many patients arrive” and “there are not enough staff to welcome them”, to “keep the beds open in the services”. This generates “overcrowding” and a high “level of stress among caregivers, who find themselves in a situation where they know they cannot do the treatment properly”, alerted the doctor. on France Inter.

The white plan has thus been activated in several establishments.

The population not sufficiently vaccinated against the flu

However, new patients could arrive in the coming weeks. Public Health France notes in its latest weekly bulletin the entry of five regions into the pre-epidemic phase of influenza in mainland France and recalls “the importance for people at risk to be vaccinated against influenza without delay”.

Because the flu vaccination campaign is not full. “We are missing 1.5 million doses” to inject, compared to the same time last year, explains on BFMTV Pierre-Olivier Variot, president of the union of community pharmacists.

“It’s still quite annoying, especially since we are coming out of two years when the flu was very weak, even non-existent” so “herd immunity is not necessarily there, especially among the most fragile”, recalls he.

“Collective immunity has been lowered compared to this virus, so this virus has the ability today to spread more easily in the human population”, also notes Bruno Lina, professor of virology at the Lyon University Hospital, for whom ” we forgot a little bit what the impact of the flu could be”.

“We often talk about the mortality” of the flu “but it is also the loss of autonomy for older people. There is as much loss of autonomy between the hip fracture and the flu infection. C It’s the same level”, explains the virologist.

The two scientists therefore strongly call for vaccination. “We know that we avoid up to 30 to 40,000 hospitalizations thanks to vaccination” and “we will at the same time protect the hospital system”, underlines Bruno Lina.

The Covid still there

If there is no longer a social distancing measure in place, the Covid is still present in France, and has experienced strong epidemic peaks in previous winters. Public Health France registered a 7.1% increase in hospitalizations with Covid-19 cases over the last week, with 4,356 patients, and critical care admissions are also up, with +15.9%.

“Western Europe is experiencing the very likely start of a new (ninth) pandemic wave of Covid-19”, wrote epidemiologist and director of the Institute of Global Health at the University of Geneva Antoine Flahault on November 17.

“There are no reports of abnormally severe forms and the vaccine (dating back less than 6 months) seems to continue to protect against serious forms,” he added, calling on the population to get vaccinated.

Bronchiolitis that clogs the emergency room

It should also be remembered that France has been in the midst of an epidemic of bronchiolitis, a disease mainly observed in babies, for several weeks. If Public Health France has recorded an ebb of the epidemic following the All Saints holidays, the epidemic remains at “very high levels”, wrote the health authorities last week.

A total of 6,882 children under the age of two went to the emergency room for bronchiolitis in mainland France during the week of November 14 to 20, an increase of 24% compared to the previous week. Some 2,552 children were eventually hospitalized.

At the end of October, babies in intensive care had already had to be transferred to other hospitals, for lack of space in their establishment. Not to mention that other winter illnesses could clog up hospital services in the coming weeks, such as chronic bronchitis.

The Minister of Health François Braun announced this week the release of an envelope of 543 million additional euros for the hospital, which is added to the 570 million promised to deal with the early epidemic of bronchiolitis. This funding “is part of our unprecedented effort to support the hospital and all the staff who make it work,” said the minister.

Salome Vincendon

Salome Vincendon BFMTV journalist

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