COVID-19 pressure builds in France's Marseille

Published: 12 September, 2020 11:24 IST | Agencies | Marseille

Doctors in Marseille — the country's latest virus hotspot — started sounding the alarm this week.

This picture has been used for representational purposes
This picture has been used for representational purposes

All five intensive care beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients are in use at the Laveran Military Training Hospital in Marseille, and its doctors are bracing for more. It's a small ward in a mid-sized hospital, but what's happening here reflects growing pressure on medical facilities across France as infections resurge. The hospital's medical staff suit up to enter the COVID zone, hook patients up to monitors and tubes for hydration, nourishment and medicine, and meet frequently to discuss their prognosis.

While France's daily case count climbed back up as summer vacations brought relaxed virus vigilance. France reopened all its schools for in-person classes last week and many parents returned to work as the government tries to revive the economy without creating a new health crisis. The number of infected patients in hospitals and ICUs stayed low and stable for several weeks. Until now.

Doctors in Marseille — the country's latest virus hotspot — started sounding the alarm this week. The 70 ICU beds dedicated to virus patients in France's second-biggest city and the surrounding Bouches-du-Rhone region were all occupied by Tuesday. The number of ICU virus patients in the region has doubled in the past 10 days and now surpasses 100.

While the central government tries to avoid a new nationwide lockdown, officials are focusing on local action instead. Marseille regional authorities on Wednesday ordered bars and restaurants to close early, and banned any unauthorised gatherings of over 10 people. Other regions are watching Marseille closely, wary that they too could see a similar situation in the coming weeks.

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