“All the indicators (of the spread of flu) are rising – consultations of general practitioners, visits to emergency wards, hospitalisations,” said the latest report from the national health authority, Santé Publique France.
It said that initial estimations of the number of deaths attributed to flu were around 1,100 from the time that statistics were first gathered on the epidemic last October until the third week of this year.
Santé Publique had already warned last week that the whole of metropolitan France and the island of Corsica had been classified at “epidemic” level for the flu virus.
Its latest report, which grimly noted that the peak of the epidemic has “probably not yet been reached” was even more cause for alarm.
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“We also note that there has been a major increase in people visiting emergency wards and being hospitalised for flu,” it said.
“Among the 12,000 patients who presented at emergency wards for flu last week, more than 1,800 were hospitalised (a 70 percent increase on the previous week),” it said.
Those over 75 years of age were the biggest group hospitalised, making up 43 percent of the total, with the under-fives the second largest group at 15 percent.
For flu levels to be classified as epidemic, there have to be 350 cases for every 100,000 people.
The usual symptoms of la grippe as it's called in French, are feverishness and chills, a cough, sore throat, headache, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, and more often in children vomiting and diarrhea.
However the flu can have life-threatening complications among the elderly and people with preexisting conditions.