‘Flu epidemic declared across whole of France

Normandy had previously escaped the worst of the 'flu epidemic but it has now been declared there too

All areas of France are now in a state of ‘flu epidemic, including Normandy, which until now had escaped the worst of the illness.

There has been a sharp spike in “‘flu activity indicators” across the country this week, compared to last, according to the weekly figures published by health authority Santé Publique France every Wednesday.

GP network Sentinelles reported a 62% rise in the number of appointments dealing with ‘flu-like symptoms, representing 301 consultations per 100,000 people. Home visit group SOS Médecins said ‘flu-related issues represented 15.3% of their work this week, compared to 11.3% the week before.

Overall, 8,821 people have visited hospital for severe ‘flu symptoms, a significant rise of 56% compared to the week before. Of these, 810 were hospitalised, a jump of 72% from the week before.

Since November, 311 severe cases required resuscitation, and 26 people died.

Children have been especially affected this year, the figures show. Under-fives have made up almost a third of all emergency visits and hospital admissions for ‘flu.

Yet, most people with severe symptoms tend to be slightly older - with an average age of 52 - and 73% have other complicating factors, such as existing chronic illnesses or being aged over 65. Three-quarters of the latter group were not vaccinated against ‘flu.

For most people, ‘flu does not require special treatment, but every year in France it affects 2 million - 6 million, and kills around 10,000 people. Last year, the death toll reached 8,100 during the two months that were declared “an epidemic”.

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