- 11.05.2021 13:43:32
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- 9.04.2021 14:16:05
French hospital staff have warned that the country's latest wave of coronavirus infection is out of control and they will soon be forced to prioritise which patients to treat as the country starts a third national lockdown.
The sharp acceleration is down to the spread of the more contagious so-called British variant, which has become dominant in France. More than 46,000 new infections were logged on Saturday, with 5,273 people in intensive care.
In an interview with France Inter radio last week, Health Minister Olivier Veran said he expected cases to peak within the next two weeks.
"We are doing everything we can to peak by the end of April so we can have more freedoms in May," Mr Veran said.
But critical care doctors said the next few weeks would be more difficult to get through than the first and second waves.
Jordan Nahoum, a junior doctor at the Rene Dubos hospital in the Paris suburbs, said all of its 32 ICU beds were full and health staff already had to prioritise which patients to treat.
"There are just not enough beds," Mr Nahoum said, adding he was also concerned about a shortage of nursing staff.
"Even before Covid, there was a lack of nurses as it's hard work and it doesn't pay much," he said. "But now even more have quit because of the crisis."
In an editorial in Le Journal du Dimanche late last month, 41 ICU doctors said the government's failure to impose an earlier lockdown would soon "compel health workers to decide which patients should live and which should die". In Paris alone, ICUs have reached more than 140pc capacity.
A survey published last autumn revealed that nearly 40pc of nursing staff in France wanted to quit because of stress from the pandemic.
Ines, a former critical care nurse who left because of burnout, described the situation in ICUs as "a nightmare" and said she feared the third wave would be "extremely dangerous", in part because hospital staff "have no more strength".
A forecast from the Paris public hospital authority warned the number of patients in its ICUs could reach anywhere from 2,700 to 4,400 people.