ICU cases creep towards new peak in French virus surge

PARIS (AP) — The number of patients in intensive care in France is fast approaching the worst point of the country’s last coronavirus surge in the autumn of 2020, another indicator of how a renewed crush of infections is bearing down on French hospitals.

The French government count of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) and hospital surveillance units climbed to 4,872 on Sunday night. That is just short of the last high-point of 4,919 ICU cases on November 16, when France was also gripped by a virus surge and was locked down in response.

With ICU admissions continuing to increase by double digits on a daily basis, that November peak could be overtaken within days. Doctors are increasingly sounding the alarm that they may have to start turning patients away for ICU care, particularly in the Paris region.

When the pandemic first hit France, hospitals ended up with more than 7,000 patients in intensive care, a high point reached in April 2020. But during that initial tidal wave of infections, hospitals stopped treating many non-COVID-19 patients to avoid becoming completely overwhelmed.

Medical staff meet in a room of a patient affected by COVID-19 virus in the ICU unit at the Ambroise Pare clinic in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. PHOTO: AP