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

All indicators for the virus are on the increase. It comes as hospitals already report being overwhelmed with Covid and bronchiolitis

A photo of an older woman in bed with flu, with medicine and tissues
People aged 65 and over are most vulnerable to being admitted to hospital with flu
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Nine regions of France are in an ‘epidemic’ stage of flu, compared to two last week, the latest health authority figures show, as cases spread across the country.

In its December 7 weekly bulletin, Santé publique France (SPF) said that figures from November 28 to December 4 showed that the illness was spreading.

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

Epidemic regions

The seven new regions at epidemic ‘red’ alert level are:

  • Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
  • Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
  • Centre-Val de Loire
  • Grand Est
  • Île-de-France
  • Hauts-de-France
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

This is in addition to Normandy and Brittany, which were already at epidemic levels the week before.

It means only Pays de la Loire, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, and Corsica are still at pre-epidemic stage.

Hospitalisations doubled in a week

All ‘indicators’ of flu are rising.

  • Consultation levels have risen 39% in a week, up from 145 in 100,000 residents, to 201
  • Hospitalisations have more than doubled, from 291 last week to 137 the week before

Those aged 65 and over are particularly affected, SPF said.

To find out how to get a flu jab in France read our article here: How to get flu jab in France - where to get vaccinated this winter

Triple threat

It comes as France is suffering from a triple threat of flu, Covid, and bronchiolitis.

In late November, Philippe Besset, pharmacist and president of the professional union FSPF, had already warned: “It will be very hard this year. It is essential to renew your vaccinations…it’s sort of catastrophic this year.”

The health minister has also said that he has not ruled out bringing back more social distancing and mask-wearing rules if levels of Covid and flu start to overwhelm the hospital system, and cases of bronchiolitis spread among infants.

Read more: French medics say face masks are needed again, especially on transport

Professor Rémi Salomon, president of the medical commission at the AP-HP, said that “too many patients are arriving” and there is “not enough staff to welcome them or keep beds open”.

He said that emergency care units were becoming “overwhelmed once again, because of viruses going round”. He said that as well as Covid, bronchiolitis among infants, and flu among the elderly, were “strong” this year.

Booster vaccination levels against Covid are much lower than advised, and eligible people are warned to get their Covid jab and be vaccinated against flu.

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