Second wave ‘worse than first’ as cases hit 41,000 in France

The comments come as Covid-19 cases hit a record 41,000 in the past 24 hours and Strasbourg warns that its hospitals risk saturation

23 October 2020
The outside of the headquarters of l'Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) in Paris. Second wave ‘worse than first’ as cases hit 41,000 in FranceThe headquarters of l'Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP), whose director has said the second wave of Covid risks being "worse" than the first
By Hannah Thompson

The director of major Paris hospital group AP-HP has said he fears the second wave of Covid-19 could be “worse than the first” in France, as a record 41,000 new cases are confirmed for the past 24 hours.

The number of new cases in 24 hours is a record since the start of the epidemic in March. There were also 165 new Covid-related deaths, said figures from health body Sante publique France (SPF).

The exact number of new cases - 41,622 - represents a jump of 15,000 new cases from those confirmed the day before. The level of positivity (the percentage of tests that are positive relative to the total number of tests) is now at 14.3%, compared to 13.7% the day before, and 4.5% at the beginning of September.

Figures show that the total number of deaths in France is now at 34,210; and the number of people infected is reaching the one million mark, at 999,043 counted so far.

In addition, director of major Paris hospital group l'Assistance publique - Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) Martin Hirsch said today (Friday October 23) that it is “possible” that the “second wave [of Covid-19] is worse than the first”. AP-HP is the biggest university hospital centre in Europe.

Speaking on new channel RTL, he said: “There was a perception over the past few months that the second wave didn’t exist, or that it would be a ‘mini wave’. But the situation is the opposite; it is possible that the second wave will be worse than the first.”

He added that despite the record number of cases, the “reality is even higher”. He said: “There are many people who are positive, and infectious, who are in the street without even knowing, and anyone else knowing; probably three times’ as many [as the official cases].”

The average age of people being admitted to intensive care with Covid-19-related issues is 62, he said.

He warned people to stay vigilant, saying: “We have had several young people with risk factors, but [also] a father contaminated by his son [and then] the father of this father, who isn’t having many visitors, and is self-isolating and being careful, but who still had his son in his fifties coming to visit him that one time…”

 

Strasbourg issues alert

The warning from the Paris director comes as the city of Strasbourg in Grand Est warned that its hospitals were “close to saturation”, with just four intensive care beds available out of 55 in the city.

Jean Rottner, president of the Grand Est region, said: “The numbers are unrelenting and we have been seeing them rise for several weeks. The services in the region are not especially stretched today, but we must be ready.

“In 15 days, in three weeks, I think that we will start to have a hospital ‘tremor’, and the intensive care unit will start to be much busier than it is now.”

Strasbourg was particularly-badly hit during the first wave.

New curfew measures

The record number of daily cases came mere hours after Prime Minister Jean Castex announced that curfew measures would apply to 38 new departments from Saturday October 24 onwards, bringing the total number of departments under curfew to 54.

Mr Castex refused to be drawn on whether another nationwide lockdown was on the cards, but he did say that "even harsher measures" could be required if the situation did not improve, and that the month of November was likely to be "tough".

He said: "There is still time to avoid [harsher measures] but not much.”

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