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Covid, flu, bronchiolitis: What is the current situation in France?

France’s health ministry has said that the current ‘triple epidemic’ is ‘unprecedented’ 

An image of a woman sitting under a blanket blowing her nose

French healthcare services have been facing significant Covid, flu and bronchiolitis epidemics this winter Pic: fizkes / Shutterstock

France’s health ministry has spoken of an “unprecedented situation” within the healthcare system because of the combined threat of Covid, bronchiolitis, and flu.

Health Minister François Braun has said that this is a week of “all the dangers”, with an “explosion in flu cases”. 

This comes as GPs represented by the Médecins pour demain collective carry out a week-long strike until January 2.

Read more: Latest on French GP strike and what to do if you need to see a doctor

Santé publique France has stated that the flu epidemic is “at a very high intensity” and is “clearly on the rise”.

Between December 19 and December 25, 40% of hospitalisations registered in France involved the flu, and the number of people going to A&E with flu symptoms has risen 52% over the past week.

Last week, the number of people whose death was at least partly caused by the flu reached 2.8% of all registered deaths in France, compared to 1.3% the previous week.

Health modelling suggests that the case number peak has not yet been reached.

What about bronchiolitis?

The bronchiolitis situation is less severe. 

On Tuesday (December 27), Dr Braun stated that: “We are coming to a slightly calmer phase” in relation to these infections.

“The problem is that the viruses overlap and come after each other,” Benjamin Davido of the Hôpital Raymond-Poincaré de Garches (Hauts-de-Seine) told La Dépêche du Midi

Bronchiolitis case numbers reached record levels earlier this winter. This infection primarily affects babies and children under two.

At the epidemic’s peak at the beginning of December, more than 8,000 children under two had been taken to A&E with bronchiolitis. However, this peak has now passed. 

And Covid?

France is currently experiencing a ninth wave of the Covid virus, which is proving to be particularly virulent in Occitanie. 

In this region, several departments have seen some of the highest infection rates of all of France. 

In the middle of December, more than 60,000 people were testing positive for Covid each day in France. The real number is likely to be significantly higher, as people are not taking tests as regularly or routinely anymore.

Some 3,500 people have died as a result of this ninth wave, with Brigitte Autran of the Comité de veille et d’anticipation des risques sanitaires health risk monitoring committee stating on Tuesday that “between 135 and 150 deaths” have been occurring each day. 

It now appears that the case number peak has passed, but more than 25,000 people are still in hospital with Covid.

This is the highest number of hospitalised Covid patients since April. 

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