AFP, Posted on Wednesday, February 1, 2023 at 12:33 pm
France is yet to end a “triple epidemic” that has strained its health system, with major health measures to fight the coronavirus set to end on Wednesday, worrying some experts.
After four straight weeks of decline, flu activity started to pick up again last week. Overall, 10 of 13 regions are still endemic, but indicators for “towns and hospitals” remain at “low intensity”, France’s Public Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
Last week, the city saw a sharp rise in influenza positivity (+13 points) and “the proportion of type B/Victoria virus has increased and has become the majority”, the health agency emphasizes.
“However, the virus can completely reinfect people who have already been infected with influenza A,” Benjamin Davido, an infectious disease specialist at the Raymond-Poincaré Hospital in Garsh, explained to AFP.
The seasonal flu epidemic started early in the season, exacerbating a particularly severe outbreak of bronchiolitis in infants, and a wave of Covid.
Last week, bronchiolitis, which has been declining since the end of December, continued to decline in most parts of Hong Kong. On the Covid side, the decline also seems to be confirmed. All indicators fell in all regions last week.
– a wounded system –
Benjamin Davido was “surprised” that there was no recovery from the epidemic in January, explaining the good news because people generally have good immunity after the 8th and 9th waves in quick succession.
“The question now is whether this immunity will last with the possible arrival of new variants,” he said.
“At the moment, the situation is particularly favorable after a very difficult period at the end of December, a month fraught with danger,” epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik told AFP.
“We can consider that bronchiolitis has really passed; on the other hand, rebounds of influenza after declines have occurred in the past,” he warned. As for Covid, “it always surprises us”.
Still, the health system is scarred. After months of the pandemic and this triple pandemic, “he is enduring hardships that seem increasingly unbearable”, Prof Zureik reckons, counting on the “declining quality of care” to continue inevitably.
Moreover, the human toll of this triple epidemic is unclear.
– while calm –
For the future, doctors worry about the relaxation of key measures. From Wednesday this week, it will no longer be necessary to systematically isolate positive cases and test their contacts two days later, which have been discarded against the backdrop of a decline in cases.
Follow-up of contacts through the ‘Covid contact’ service administered by Health Insurance will also cease.
From now on, the authorities are happy to strongly advise people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and those who have been exposed to the virus to respect the barrier gesture, get tested and avoid contact with vulnerable people.
“It is still light not to impose masks on active people,” Mahmoud Zureik regretted. The timing was right, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”
Benjamin Davido also believes that the decline in the epidemic may not last, but it is an opportunity to prevent the arrival of future viruses.
“The best time to organize a vaccination campaign is during periods of calm”, emphasizes the epidemiologist. “We should take advantage of the progress we seem to have made with the Covid virus in January and stick to the recommendation to recall the newer vaccine,” he said.
Ten days ago, health authorities announced the extension of the national seasonal flu vaccination campaign until February 28. In addition to this vaccination, reminders for Covid remain open to all.