Several epidemics of winter respiratory viruses are currently raging in France, a few weeks before the end of the year celebrations, a favorable time for the transmission of viruses.
4,608 Covid-19 hospitalizations over the past seven days, an increase of 7.9% in admissions. With less than a month to go from the Christmas holidays, the monitoring indicators for the Covid-19 epidemic are on the rise and this year the SARS-CoV-2 virus is circulating with other winter viruses, raising fears of an overflow hospital services in the coming weeks.
The end-of-year celebrations bring together several factors that could increase the epidemics currently underway. On the one hand, the meeting of several people in rooms that are often poorly ventilated in winter, due to the cold, facilitates the transmission of viruses. On the other hand, Christmas is a time of mixing of populations with fragile people like the elderly, more likely to have serious forms.
“A very special conjunction”
On the Covid-19 side “the risk of hospital saturation is lower than in previous years” thanks to vaccination and immunity due to infection, epidemiologist Mircea Sofonea explains to BFMTV.com, “but there is still present, we are still dying because of the Covid.
The difficulty of this end of the year comes mainly from the fact that the hospitals find themselves in an “unfavorable conjunction”, he declares, with a staff tested by three years of pandemic, a hospital which is struggling to recruit and a resumption of the circulation of different respiratory viruses.
“We are in a very particular conjunction with epidemics of bronchiolitis, influenza and Covid, not to mention the circulation of other winter viruses”, explains to BFMTV.com infectious disease specialist Benjamin Davido, Covid-19 referent at the hospital. Raymond-Poincare from Garches, in the Hauts-de-Seine.
These circumstances raise fears of an overload of patients in the hospital, possibly with, in the worst case, postponements of care and transfers to other establishments.
“Return to social distancing habits”
So that these epidemics do not swell, and the hospital finds itself overwhelmed at Christmas, “we must anticipate”, supports Philippe Amouyel epidemiologist and professor of public health at the Lille University Hospital. “We have to prepare for this upstream, avoiding this upward trend (of the Covid-19, editor’s note) persisting. In one month, we can crush a nascent wave” but for that we must “resume the habits of social distancing .”
On December 8, 2021, the Scientific Council recommended for “Christmas meal-type family reunions” to “limit the number of participants, to ensure that fragile people have received their booster dose, to ventilate the premises regularly. , and to perform a self-test the same day or an antigen test the day before or the same day of the event”.
These recommendations remain on the table this year, explain the scientists interviewed.
Mircea Sofonea thus calls for testing for Covid-19 before an event bringing together the world, especially if fragile people are there, but also after contacts deemed to be at risk. Wearing a mask is also recommended when meeting in poorly ventilated rooms, which often happens in winter. Ventilation, hand washing and social distancing also remain infection-limiting measures.
These recommendations for Covid-19 are also valid for other winter respiratory viruses. “We have not explained enough that the mask is a protection for other respiratory infections in the fall and winter”, underlines Benjamin Davido.
Applying health protection measures against Covid-19 also means protecting yourself from other diseases.
Get vaccinated against Covid-19 and the flu
All also recall the importance of vaccination, while a fourth dose against Covid-19 is available. For Covid-19, it is thus possible to be vaccinated six months after its last injection or three months after an infection, explains the government site. The vaccine protects in particular against the severe forms of the disease and is adapted to the variants of the virus.
“There is also the flu vaccine,” adds Mircea Sofonea.
After two years with weak flu epidemics, collective immunity is weakened, especially among the most fragile. While 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”, explained on BFMTV Bruno Lina, professor of virology at the Lyon University Hospital .
However, these two vaccination campaigns are not full.
“Today we can anticipate, we have the tools to fight” against these epidemics, recalls Philippe Amouyel, “we must use them”.
“The Covid injunctions have disappeared”
Since last year, the latest restrictions and measures have fallen into the public space, such as the wearing of a mandatory mask in transport made optional last May. Since then, recommendations are still available, but a large part of the population no longer wears the mask in public space and has more generally relaxed on barrier gestures.
“The Covid injunctions have disappeared,” laments Benjamin Davido.
He stresses the importance of using the methods available to avoid making ongoing epidemics bigger, recalling that “living with the virus” does not mean “acting as if it no longer exists”. Living with it means that the barrier measures “are long-term”, he recalls, and you should “not wait for the government to say to put on the mask to wear it”.
Philippe Amouyel, for his part, underlines the importance of preparing the Christmas holidays in advance in terms of health, of “communicating, of clearly explaining why” the barrier measures are always important “so that we all have a Merry Christmas” .
Source: BFM TV