Paris hospitals are fast approaching saturation point because of snowballing COVID-19 admissions and may be forced to turn patients away, top officials warned Sunday.
“There’s a feeling of anger at finding oneself in a situation that will force you to do disaster medicine,” said senior Paris hospitals official Remi Salomon.
“In 10 days, 15 days or three weeks we may be overwhelmed,” he told the all-news channel BFMTV, pleading for a new lockdown, including for schools.
Also Sunday, 41 hospital crisis directors put their names to an open letter saying: “We cannot remain silent without betraying the Hippocratic oath we once made.”
Published in the weekly Journal du Dimanche, the letter said they were preparing for decisions on which patients should be granted access to intensive care.
“This triage will concern all patients, Covid and non-Covid, in particular for adult patients’ access to critical care,” they wrote.
They said they had “never known such a situation, even during the worst (terror) attacks suffered in recent years.”
They noted that such selections had already begun, with hospitals being forced to postpone surgical procedures.
“These cancellations will intensify in the coming days, with only vital emergencies being spared soon,” they warned.
Later Sunday, Health Minister Olivier Veran met with the crisis officials, saying he was “acutely aware of the impact on ICUs and wishes to keep them at their maximum to avoid more and more terrible choices for care providers,” according to a member of his team.
The government may have to take “supplementary measures” soon, the source told AFP.
In the daily Le Monde, nine emergency room doctors demanded more accountability from the executive, writing in an op-ed: “By making care givers decide which patient should live and which patient should die, without stating it clearly, the government is shirking responsibility in a hypocritical way. It is time for the executive to clearly and publicly assume the health consequences of its political decisions.”
Salomon predicted in his BFMTV interview that pressure on hospitals will likely ease by May or June thanks to the vaccination drive, while adding that the third wave in France could be “the most violent... but probably the last.”
The Paris regional health authority ARS asked hospitals to set a goal of making 2,200 beds available for COVID-19 patients.
An earlier target of 1,800 beds is expected to be exceeded within days.
France counts a total of 27,712 Covid patients currently in hospital, of whom 1,017 were admitted Sunday.
In the past 24 hours, 131 patients died of Covid in hospital, compared with 194 over the previous 24 hours.
Overall coronavirus deaths in France total 94,623.
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