EPIDEMIC – Officials at the Marseille hospital center alerted Monday August 23 to the influx of Covid patients. With nearly 600 patients in 24 hours, the emergencies are in “real crisis”.
Combined with the summer period, the fourth wave of the epidemic puts the Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille (AP-HM) in difficulty. Monday, August 23, its leaders alerted to the situation approaching saturation in their services, while two new patients in intensive care must be transferred Tuesday to the hospital in Strasbourg. “The AP-HM in terms of the number of hospitalized patients is indeed one of the most impacted university hospitals in mainland France”, underlined Lionel Velly, the head of the intensive care unit. Of the 67 seriously ill patients currently hospitalized, 89% have not been vaccinated, according to the doctor, and the average age has dropped to 54 years.
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Disparities among patients
And if there are more patients in need of critical care, the hospital will be difficult to cope, warned the department head. And this because of the number of beds available, 67, which is not expandable due to nursing leave and recruitment difficulties. Currently, the resuscitation beds of hospitals in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region are 77% occupied by Covid patients, according to figures from Public Health France (SPF) dating from Monday.
Another service largely affected, that of emergencies. These are in “real crisis situation” with record peaks of activity of nearly 600 patients seen within 24 hours (Covid or not). In addition, the return to Marseille will see tourists leaving but also a large number of Marseillais returning from vacations from North African countries highly impacted by the Covid. Something to be worried about, according to Prof. Jean-Luc Jouve, president of the medical commission of the AP-HM. The latter pointed to strong disparities in patients admitted to intensive care, with an over-representation of residents of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods north of Marseille.
Didier Raoult singled out
The same goes for vaccination coverage, which remains insufficient among these people because of a lack of education and the smaller number of vaccination centers. “The IHU is perhaps responsible for the fact that in the northern districts, we have a rather miserable vaccination coverage close to 30%”, estimated Professor Jean-Luc Jouve, referring to the IHU Méditerranée Infection headed by Didier Raoult, known for his septic positions on vaccination against Covid and his defense of hydroxychloroquine. The latter seems to be on the move while the director of the AP-HM has recently expressed his desire not to extend the mandate of the doctor at the head of the institute.
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One of the markers of the epidemic is also the incidence rate, which refers to the number of new cases per 100,000 inhabitants detected over seven rolling days. “The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region has an extremely high incidence rate, roughly double the national average”, to 587 per 100,000 inhabitants, warned there also François Crémieux, new director general of the AP-HM. A resurgence of the epidemic which is found in wastewater, warned for their part the marine firefighters of Marseille.
Indeed, the virus concentration in the collected water is very high in several areas of the city (see the map above). “The circulation of the virus is very active in Marseille, the marine firefighters have reinforced the surveillance of sensitive establishments with the ARS PACA”. A system put in place a year ago consisting of “awareness-raising, surveillance and screening actions, carried out primarily in nursing homes and educational establishments“. In the department of Bouches-du-Rhône alone, the positivity rate is higher than the national average, with 4.6% of the tests carried out being positive. An indicator which can however fluctuate depending on the extent of the screening.
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