Map: Where are France hospitals under most Covid pressure?
Signs of strain are starting to appear, with the latest figures showing 3,918 patients in intensive care, and bed occupation levels above 90% in some areas
The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units across France is continuing to rise, with the areas of Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur and Île-de-France especially badly hit.
The latest figures from Santé publique France show that there were 9,608 new Covid-related hospital admissions in the past seven days, of which 2,103 were to intensive care.
The total number of patients in intensive care, as of Tuesday March 9, was at 3,918 - of which 421 people had been admitted in the previous 24 hours. One week ago, that number was at 3,686.
The number has been rising since the beginning of January, when it was at just 2,600.
Yet, it is far from reaching the record figures seen in the first wave of the pandemic (7,000), and the second wave in mid-November (4,900).
Île-de-France and Hauts-de-France
The current situation is particularly tense in Île-de-France. One-quarter of all patients in intensive care nationally are in the region, with 1,032 people admitted, and more than 90% of available beds (based on pre-Covid numbers) occupied by Covid cases.
Dr Mehran Monchi, head of intensive care at the Melun hospital centre in Seine-et-Marne, told news service BFMTV: “Pressure is high on intensive care beds. In our region, and in several other regions, we are starting to see saturation.”
In Hauts-de-France, the number of beds occupied in intensive care units has risen sharply in the past few weeks, from 360 on February 23, to 422 on March 2, and 507 on March 9. This equates to almost 80% of available beds.
Health agency the Agence Régionale de Santé Hauts-de-France said: “While the volume of 600 beds had been maintained in mid-December, after the peak of activity during the second wave of Covid, the regional capacity has risen to 650 beds.”
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
These regions are on alert, although numbers remain stable for now.
Bourgogne-Franche-Comté has a bed occupation level of 80% - with 150 people in intensive care beds out of a capacity of 200, over the past few weeks. This is a drop from the 170 recorded in January.
In the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, there are 444 people in intensive care, according to the most recent figures from Tuesday (March 9). The number has been at or around 400 for several weeks.
This equates to 79.4% of available intensive care beds in the region, according to calculations by local news source France Bleu.
At the end of February, Professor Jean-Christophe Richard, head of intensive care at the Croix-Rousse hospital in Lyon, Rhône, told BFM Lyon: “While the situation has appeared to be under control over the past few weeks, we have some worrying indicators.
“[These include] pressure on intensive care beds over the past 10 days, occupation levels over 95%, and on certain days it is difficult to admit people.”
The Rhône department has been placed under heightened surveillance by the government.
91% of intensive care beds are occupied according to the most recent update from the ARS PACA on Tuesday night.
The number of beds varies greatly across the region.
In the Var department, 95.1% of beds are taken up with 68 patients; while in Vaucluse, there are just 16 patients in intensive care, but this still represents 90.5% of all beds available there. In the Bouches-du-Rhône, there are far more patients - 273 people in intensive care - equating to 91.7% of available beds.
In the PACA region, four out of the six departments are on heightened alert.
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