Christmas: Grandparents should eat alone says French doctor

A leading French hospital professor has given strict advice for keeping family members safe over the festive season, as figures show the brutal effects of Covid-19 on over 75s in France

27 November 2020
By Joanna York

Professor Rémi Salomon, medical commission president for Paris hospital chain AP-HP, warned about the risks of contaminating elderly relatives this festive season, and suggested that older members of the family eat alone to stay safe from Covid-19. 

In an interview with news source FranceInfo he said: “This is a dangerous virus. If I pass it on to granny and grandpa that is worse than anything. How will I live with that after?

“We must not eat with granny and grandpa [this Christmas], even if we have taken precautions before. So, we can cut the bûche de Noël in half, grandparents can eat in the kitchen and everyone else in the living room.”

Precautions may include isolating before seeing family members, with the current recommendation duration for isolation being over seven days.


Over 65s at significantly higher risk

Professor Salomon said such measures are necessary as elderly people have “a serious risk of going into intensive care and eventually dying" if they contract Covid-19.

The latest figures from health body Santé publique France (SPF) for the week of November 16-22 show that older people are particularly vulnerable to the virus. 

People aged 75 and over are still the most affected group in France, with an incidence rate of 258. The second-highest rate is 168 for 14-44 year-olds.

Since the beginning of September, seven times more patients aged 65 and over have been admitted to hospital compared with younger age groups, with eight times more patients in this age group in intensive care. The average age for patients in hospital with Covid-19 is 72 years old, and 60% of all Covid patients in hospital are aged 75 and over. 

Between March 1 and November 24, SPF has recorded 50,237 deaths in France as a result of Covid-19. Of these, 93% have been people aged 65 and over and the average age of people who have died is 84. 

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