Covid-19: declining hospitalizations but caregivers under pressure

Incidence, hospitalizations, deaths: all Covid indicators continue to decline according to the latest epidemiological bulletin from Public Health France. Between April 18 and 24, the incidence rate fell below 1,000 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, or 26% less than the previous week.

→ INVESTIGATION. Covid long, the steep road to recovery

Same trend for new hospitalizations (– 21%) and critical care admissions (– 15%), even if these remain at a high level. On April 26, 2022, 24,778 Covid-positive patients were hospitalized in France, including 1,681 in critical care units.

A “hardly palpable decline for health professionals”

Is the sixth wave, carried by the BA.2 variant, definitely behind us? “The weather is better, we spend more time outside, we ventilate more easily, so it is logical to see the viral circulation drop, notes Anne Goffard, virologist at the Lille University Hospital. But in reality, the lack of indicators, in particular the very low number of tests carried out (– 17% in one week, Editor’s note)makes it very difficult to assess the epidemic situation, she nuances. In addition, there are always serious cases, and other respiratory viruses are circulating (influenza, rhinovirus), which makes this drop difficult for health professionals. »

Infectious disease specialist at the Tourcoing hospital center, doctor Serge Alfandari confirms: “The lull may be real in the general population, but in the hospital, we do not feel it. The epidemic remains omnipresent. » If intensive care admissions are lower, patients “with covid” (i.e. positive but hospitalized for another reason) remain numerous and “disorganize care”.

“But what embarrasses us the most are the work stoppages, largely linked to the exhaustion of caregivers”, insists the infectiologist. Here, the lack of staff has led to the closure of beds and the activation of a new white plan, as in around sixty other hospitals in the territory. “Before, we triggered them for a one-off health disaster. Today, it is because of the chronic shortage of caregivers,” complains the doctor.

The fear of a new variant

Anne Goffard is already thinking about the start of the school year. “We seem to be moving more and more towards a seasonal virus, with fewer cases in spring and summer, and a recovery in September-October, when it is cooler and wetter. It would have been good to take advantage of this lull to continue the campaign for the fourth dose and to vaccinate more children who will be the first exposed at the start of the school year, she anticipates. Not to mention that a new variant is always possible. »

A fear shared by Serge Alfandari. “If the decline continues over the next few days, we should end up feeling it in the hospital. But that’s only if another variant doesn’t fall on us…” And to conclude, as if to be reassured: “It will eventually stop one day. »


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