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‘Triple epidemic in France’: What is situation in run-up to Christmas?

Covid-19, flu and bronchiolitis have all hit hard this year

The ‘triple epidemic’ is at different stages in France, with Covid and bronchiolitis past the peak, but flu cases still rising Pic: Victor Joly / Shutterstock

The triple epidemic of Covid, bronchiolitis and flu are continuing to spread across France in the run-up to Christmas with flu still yet to hit a peak.

The latest figures from health agency Santé publique France (SPF) show that cases are continuing to spread but that each epidemic is at different stages.

Covid-19: peak in cases but hospital rates still rising

Covid appears to have reached its peak (meaning it is now retreating) in regard to new cases.

The most recent figures from December 16 show that there were 57,849 new cases per day confirmed over a sliding average of the past seven days, a drop of 2.21% compared to the day before and a drop of 4.01% over a week.

Taking the average number compensates for days where fewer tests were taken, such as Sundays.

On Sunday December 18, there were 37,264 new cases reported which is a decrease of 19,7% in comparison with the previous Sunday.

The positivity level for tests is also dropping. There were 28.66 positive tests for every 100 tests taken on December 5. This dropped to 26.88% by December 13.

However, in hospitals, which is the major indicator used by the government to decide whether to impose restrictions, the indicators are still rising. 

On December 16, 24,173 people were hospitalised due to Covid-19, a rise of 9.57% in a week. Of those, 1,393 were in intensive care, a rise of 17.35% over the previous week.

Authorities have recommended that people go back to wearing masks in enclosed public spaces to prevent further infection. Everyone in France who wants one can now have a booster jab too. 

Take-up of the boosters have been particularly low, leading authorities to urge everyone (and not only those in vulnerable groups) to have this extra dose before Christmas if they can.

Read more: Covid France: Extra booster fourth vaccine dose now open to all 

Read more: How do I get an Omicron-targeted Covid booster jab in France?

Flu: cases still rising

Cases of flu have also remained at epidemic levels nationwide. 

Sibylle Bernard-Stoecklin, epidemiologist at SPF, told AFP that the “epidemic is earlier than previous years and the increase has been very rapid”.

However, she did say that the virus this year does not appear to be more dangerous than in previous years.

In its last epidemiological bulletin, published on December 14, SPF said that 6,569 people attended accident and emergency (A&E) for flu-related issues from December 5-11 (up 93% in a week). Of these, 654 were hospitalised (up 117% in a week).

Bronchiolitis: past the peak? 

Cases of bronchiolitis appear to be dropping. The condition mainly affects infants and young children.  

In its latest update, SPF said there were 6,626 children aged two and under who had been hospitalised with bronchiolitis. This is down from 8,552 the week before.

Last week, authorities noted a drop in hospital emergency admissions, “showing that the peak of the epidemic has very probably passed”, authorities said.

The bronchiolitis epidemic has been severe, however, having reached a 10-year record in hospitalisations this year.

Related articles

Flu in France: Nine regions at epidemic level as cases spread

Covid, flu and bronchiolitis are ‘hitting hard’ in France this year 

Covid France: Face masks recommended in enclosed, busy spaces

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