Covid: Paris hospitals to have 600 extra ICU beds

The number of ICU beds in Ile-de-France must rise to 2,200 to meet anticipated demand, the regional health authority has said

24 March 2021
By Joanna York

Over 600 extra intensive care unit (ICU) beds will soon be available in Ile-de-France, as health authorities anticipate more Covid patients will be hospitalised in the coming days, regional health authority l’ARS has announced.

There are currently 1,360 patients in intensive care in Ile-de-France and a total of 1,577 beds dedicated to Covid patients. 

L’ARS said in order to meet anticipated demand, the number of ICU beds must rise to 1,800 by the middle of next week, and 2,200 after that.

More operations to be cancelled 

Intensive care units in Ile-de-France are already running over maximum capacity, with ICU bed occupancy - meaning the number of intensive care beds available in pre-pandemic circumstances - at 118.6%.

Meanwhile efforts to transfer Covid patients from hospitals in Ile-de-France to regions with less Covid cases have stalled. 

Few patients are stable enough to be transported long distances and families are often reluctant to agree to transferring them to other regions, FranceInfo reported.

Professor Bruno Crestani, head of respiratory medicine at Bichat-Claude Bernard hospital in Paris, told FranceInfo patient numbers were increasing “day-by-day”.

He said: “Today we opened four extra hospital beds, tomorrow we will open four more and we will open four extra beds in intensive care too.” 

“We are facing two epidemics: Covid-19 and then all the other patients who are still in hospital.”

As a result health authorities are now deciding which hospital services must be cancelled to make extra space for Covid patients.

On March 8 40% of operations were cancelled in Ile-de-France. News source Les Echos has reported this may now rise to 80%. 

Hospitals facing first-wave conditions

Professor Crestani described current conditions in hospitals as comparable to the first wave of the crisis. 

Speaking on March 23, he said: “What we have to face in the next 14 days is not a light crisis, it’s a brick wall.”

He added that the health restrictions in Ile-de-France and 16 other departments introduced on March 20 - which the government have been reluctant to describe as confinement - may not be sufficient.

Read more: New Covid rules include revised form and more shops to open

He said: “During the first wave we had confinement.

“I hope we don’t get there [again], but I fear that we will be drawn towards applying measures that are stricter than those currently in place.”

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