Coronavirus: Marseille ICUs could be overwhelmed by patients, warns health chief

The intensive care network in France’s second-largest city is at risk of being overwhelmed by coronavirus patients, officials have warned.

Marseille hospitals director Jean-Olivier Arnaud said the city’s intensive care beds were nearly overloaded after a record surge in new infections across the country in recent weeks.

He said the risk to the hospital network persisted even though new beds were added over the weekend.

“We are not far from saturation,” he said.

“We are at the top of the national ranking of departments whose situation is developing the most unfavourably.”

A similar warning was sounded in Bordeaux – another virus hotspot – with authorities there battling “a very rapid increase over the past 10 days”.

“All the warning signals are flashing red,” Bordeaux hospital director Yann Bubien said.

Both cities imposed strict measures to limit public gatherings to reign in the surge.

Public gatherings are limited to 10 people or fewer, drinking outside late in the evening is banned and large events are limited to 1,000 seated people separated with a minimum one-metre distance.

Workers are being told not to come into the office, student parties are banned and dancing at bars or at weddings is now illegal.

Visits to care homes have also been drastically reduced. 

Additional police will be deployed to enforce the measures in Bordeaux, with the situation to be reviewed in “two or three weeks”.

France has recorded 404,564 cases and 30,790 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. 

The country suffered its worst day for new infections on Saturday after a record 10,561 new cases in 24 hours.

A group of doctors to warned the surge “signalled the end of playtime” for the French.

New cases are rising fastest among young people but there has been a surge across all age groups.

“After the joy of reuniting this summer, it’s time to be careful in the private world,” the doctors said in a column published in Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said he would not be imposing a nationwide lockdown and instead asked specific areas to introduce their own measures. 

He said the situation was not the same across the country and it didn’t make sense to cripple the economy.

Other hotspots include Paris and Lyon.

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